Returning to the United States from my winter vacation in Israel I came to know ADI! as my plane was about to land the voice of one of the crew members of El AL airlines announced over the speakers “ if you have any unused shekels and you would like to help children in Israel, please take the white envelope in the front your sit pocket and deposit your donation; one of our crew members will collect it soon”
Following the recommendations, I took the envelope and read it, it mentions two organizations Alut and ADI, as a mother and teacher I had always loved children and this was a great opportunity to help children in Israel, besides, I did not know if or when I would be back to Israel. So, I took the shekels I had in my wallet, and placed them inside the white envelope, I took a photograph, I thought, I could share this photo with my friends, and they could also help.
A few days later, as I was reminiscent about the wonderful time I had in Israel, the picture of the envelope I had taken appeared before my eyes. I became curious and typed on the browser ADI.org and there before my eyes appear much information, photos and videos in regards of ADI services to people of all ages with disabilities. I continued clicking at the different tabs and found out that ADI accepted international volunteers. Full of enthusiasm, I Immediately filled out the questioner and submitted it, a few days later I was contacted by one of ADI’s international coordinators who kindly explained to me the process and the things I needed to have to become a volunteer; after a few emails, a phone conversation and the submission of various documents I was accepted to volunteer for 6 weeks in the summer time at ADI Negev. I now wish it had been 6 months or 6 years.
On a personal note I had never volunteered for such a long time and naturally as the day of departure was approaching, I was becoming a little anxious.
I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport June 9 the last day of Shavuot. I was extremely happy to have landed on such a wonderful day. After a quick shower, I headed to the Kotel to give thanks to Gd for the blessing of being back to Israel in less than six months. I was filled with emotion and anticipation.
The next day I woke up early and took the train to Ofakim from Ben Gurion airport; many thoughts were running through my mind, will I fit in? I know little Hebrew; will I be able to communicate well?
The train stopped at the Ofakim station, I quickly followed the signs and found myself outside the train station, there, one of ADI’s drivers was waiting for me. The sun was bright, and the skies were blue, the blue that you only see in the desert; the warmth of the Negev sun touched me and immediately felt that everything was going to be alright.
The villa was a big home with spacious rooms and big windows that allowed the light in, this was going to be my home for the next six weeks. Slowly, I met the other volunteers some young people; others, like me not so young, but all of us with one purpose in mind… to help those less fortunate.
I met with the school’s director Limor and the International coordinators Ravit and Peter Paul and I was placed in a classroom with Rhutie, Elisheva and Etty, each of them spoke a little English and with my little Hebrew we manage to communicate just fine!
The schedule was such that allowed me to be with some of the children until they were picked up to go home at 6 pm.
During my time at ADI Negev I walked every morning and afternoon, I couldn’t believe that I was walking in the middle of
the Negev desert, the stories about Abraham avinu and his life in the desert came to my mind, the realization of how beautiful it was to walk in the land that was once desolated and barren for thousands of years …and now I was walking on it, feeling the sun, the wind, listening to the birds singing their happy song and even getting the dust in my eyes and hair filled my mornings and afternoons with joy and thankfulness.
At the school, my job was to support the teachers in any capacity they requested of me or by interacting with the children and predicting what the need might be. In my classroom the children had several disabilities such as speech and mobility impairment, down syndrome and other symptoms I couldn’t describe.
The children and I began to know each other, little by little, we were smiling at each other and holding hands, playing silly games or just sitting swinging next to each other in the hot summer afternoons before they went home.
Lines of trust, sympathy, empathy were developed and after a few days I was helping the teachers by taking the children from one classroom to another for therapies, music, crafts or to ride bicycles indoor or outdoor to calm a restless child.
The teachers prepared many educational activities which provided the children with countless rich educational experiences, one of the favorite one was Kabbalah Shabbat which was awaited from very beginning of the week Yom Rishon!
The teachers and local volunteers exemplified the best values of a human being can have, love, kindness, tenderness, respect, empathy and dedication.
I will forever be grateful for the marvelous opportunity I had to spend a few weeks of my life at ADI Negev such a remarkable place! My prayer is that one day I would be able to be back and join the angels at ADI Negev, one of the most noble causes in the world!