My very first Sar-El group adopted as our unofficial motto the phrase “Make it work!” What we meant was: never whine, never complain, never turn around and walk away from a problem. Whatever you’re supposed to have that you don’t have, or whatever you have that you think you don’t need–improvise, figure it out and just “Make it work!” When we found that a 15-passenger van had been sent to take 25 volunteers and their luggage back to Tel Aviv, we played 3-D Tetris until all of us and all our suitcases were safely on board, although I suspect we were well over the load limit for the vehicle. On that first trip and on subsequent trips, “Make it work!” is a motto that’s stood me in good stead on and off IDF bases and even once I get home. Of course, having some bits and pieces to help make it work is invaluable, and over the years I’ve assembled a kit that contains everything from small tools to first aid supplies to an inflatable camp pillow (since pillows seem to be relatively rare on IDF bases) to a collapsible coffee cup (no need to use the disposables in the moadon in the evenings!). I’m always happy to share the wealth with my fellow volunteers, supplying stickyhooks, aspirin, tweezers or whatever else is needed from my stash, and quickly become the “go-to gal” with all kinds of requests. When a roommate asked if I had any tape, I was able to reply, “Mailing or duct?” Yes, I had both, and lest you think I enrich the airlines by paying for overweight or extra bags, I can tell you that everything I need for a five-week trip“even in wintertime“fits into one carry-on bag and one small backpack. Of course, I carry a foldable tote bag to accommodate souvenirs and gifts, so on the way home my carry-on gets checked (especially when I bring home Israeli wine). On my most recent trip, we were faced with a broken window shade in our room, and were unwilling to provide a strip-tease act as entertainment for the guys across the courtyard. Using sticky hooks and a couple of bungee cords, I was able to rig up a passable repair job: “Architectural Digest” won’t be giving us any awards, but Sar-El-nikim are obviously ready to handle anything that life on an IDF base can throw at us. We’re invincible! What items have YOU found to be lifesavers on your Sar-El adventures? – Ruth Mastron
Make It Work.