Volunteer Minister Ayal Lindeman
Paying Back a Debt of Honor
Serving in Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, New Yorker and Scientology Volunteer Minister Ayal Lindeman is committed to repaying the help given New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Scientology Volunteer Minister Ayal Lindeman, 54, from Rockland County, New York, is serving in Japan as part of the Scientology Disaster Response Team to help the country deal with the devastating effects of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.
“The world came to New York after 9/11,” says Lindeman. “I see my going to Japan as payment-in-part of a debt of honor.”
An emergency medical technician (EMT) for the past 20 years, Lindeman says his trial by fire came as a first responder at Ground Zero.
“As any New Yorker would tell you, to see the twin towers erupt and then disintegrate was a living nightmare,” he says.
A member of a volunteer ambulance corps, his team went into action when the country went into mutual aid/mass casualty incident mode and everyone was called to duty.
“Through those first days, when the reality of what had happened was still just sinking in, the incredible outpouring of help we saw from all over the world was a reaffirmation in the face of such an atrocity of the truly decent and humane nature of Man,” says Lindeman.
Two days later, when the search and rescue phase ended, his ambulance corps went on standby and Lindeman went to work with the Scientology Volunteer Ministers Disaster Response team operating in coordination with VOAD (Volunteers Organizations Active in Disasters). There, he assisted those faced with the daunting task left by the collapse of the towers, working at the volunteer field hospital, organizing supplies, arranging donations and doing anything else that was needed.
Lindeman went on to serve as a Scientology Volunteer Minister at other disaster sites, including Hurricanes Charlie, Ivan, Jean, Katrina and Rita.
Driven by these experiences to be able to do more, at age 52 Lindeman studied to become a licensed practical nurse. Completing LPN training the summer before the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, Lindeman’s initiation to his new profession was as a first responder in Port-au-Prince.
His nursing skills were put to the crucial test when he and one other medical professional took over four wards at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital. Many of the patients in these wards were those whose injuries or illnesses were simply beyond the available help, given the collapse of medical services and acute shortage of supplies and doctors.
The staff of the hospital was decimated. Of those who survived the earthquake, many were burying or caring for families or friends who died or were seriously injured. Woefully undermanned, and unable to travel after dark, with a curfew in place throughout the city, hospital staff and volunteers left the patients at night in the hands of their families and fate, and walked in each morning to new fatalities.
“I’m pretty tough, but this place drove me to tears,” says Lindeman.
“We decided, ‘No more dying. Not on our shift, not on our wards. The deaths stop now.’ Pulling 18- to 20-hour shifts for days on end, whatever it took, we were true to our pledge—no other patients died for lack of care.”
One of Lindeman’s patients, a 22-year-old engineering student, refused the leg amputation that might well save his life but would make him a burden to his family and an outcast the rest of his life, or so he thought. Lindeman revived the young man’s will to live, arranged a prosthetic leg, visa and private hospital jet to the United States, hospital care, surgeries and physical therapy. Lindeman then helped raise the funds for the student to complete his recovery in America and he is working with a group that is helping the young man complete his engineering degree before returning to Haiti.
For his work at the Port-au-Prince General Hospital and University of Miami Medishare Hospital, in June 2010 Lindeman was recognized with a Nursing Office “Unsung Heroes Award.”
Lindeman was introduced to Scientology 41 years ago when he was 13. His mother had just passed away, leaving him devastated. His brother, a Scientologist, helped him with Scientology spiritual counseling.
“For the first time since she died I felt like I could come to terms with it. I snapped out of the grief,” he says.
Six years later, Lindeman began his Scientology studies in earnest, to learn to help others with the technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard. That year, he also became a Scientology Volunteer Minister.
Lindeman emphasizes that the Volunteer Ministers do not go into a disaster zone with preconceived ideas. They find out what officials and rescue personnel need and want and provide it.
“One of the worst effects of tragedy of the magnitude that occurred in Haiti and now in Japan, is the hopelessness it leaves in its wake,” says Lindeman. “The survivors suffer almost inconceivable loss—of loved ones and everything they own—and they face an uncertain future.
“I believe our most valuable contribution is our ability to revive hope. The Scientology Volunteer Ministers motto is ‘Something can be done about it,’ and when the people we help realize this is true, amazing things can happen.”
To learn about more about the Scientology Volunteer Ministers and view videos of Scientologists and the work they are doing to improve society, visit www.volunteerministers.org.
The Scientology Volunteer Minister program was initiated by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1976. There are now hundreds of thousands of people trained in the skills of a Volunteer Minister across 185 nations.