Not an Israeli citizen or even Jewish, Joana Chris Arpon was honored by Israel’s president as one of the Jewish State’s most outstanding soldiers after she volunteered to serve in the IDF search and rescue unit that was dispatched to the Philippines in 2013.
Filipina Joana Chris Arpon’s unusual journey to becoming one of the few non-Israeli and non-Jewish volunteers in Israel’s military began with an earthquake in the country her parents migrated from.
The disaster in 2013 struck a region where Arpon, an Israeli-born Filipino, had relatives. Amid the chaos, a search and rescue unit of the Israel Defense Forces was dispatched to provide disaster relief, and ended up rescuing her grandmother.
“Then I chose to serve in the same unit that saved her,” Arpon told Reuters. Arpon enlisted into the Home Front Command’s Search and Rescue unit.
She has since been honored by Israel’s president as one of the country’s most outstanding soldiers and was recognized at a festive ceremony last week.
Arpon’s service is all the more unusual for the fact that, as the daughter of economic migrants from the Philippines, she is not an Israeli citizen—though she hopes to change that.
“I hope for myself to be an Israeli (citizen), to have it, and also to help other people in other countries as I do here in the army,” she said.
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