Option Week 1 - Volunteering in Afula
After a 2 hour drive to Afula we finally arrived at our destination, Beit Haleladim (a home for the troubled youth). We were all so excited to finally have an opportunity to help and give back to our community, which has given us so much over the past few weeks. We were quickly given our rooms, put in pairs and were taken to meet and introduce ourselves to the children.
That afternoon we did arts and crafts as well as joining in on many sporting activities. At the beginning of the day, the language barrier was an issue. But the children soon accepted our basic Hebrew and helped, by teaching us new words and using hand gestures. Through their help we managed to overcome this obstacle.
Following the kids dinner, our small group of girls went out with our teacher and tour guide to explore more of Afula. While out, we came across a Japanese restaurant where we ate a delicious meal. We had time to discuss all of our stories from the day that we had just experienced. Tuesday morning began with a communal breakfast in the big dining hall. The children then left for school and we started to decorate all of the rooms and their home for Channukah. We spent hours preparing and hanging up our unique creations. It really made a difference to the rooms and livened them up. When the kids returned from school in the early afternoon, we did colouring activities and had some conversations with them.
A while later they took us to their onsite petting zoo. This contains a variety of animals and it brought a huge smile to the children's faces. They loved to be surrounded by the animals and help out with the daily care of the animals. We returned to our home room with the children and were surprised to see the teacher and a few other kids having a dance party... we decided to join in!
Just before dinner time, it was time for the kids to do their homework and we were given a bit of free time. At 6pm, our new friends were eating a delicious meal and we were able to spend more time and take photos. These would be kept as memories for a very long time.
Wednesday morning arrived and we were devastated that it was our last day. We really had started to create a connection with the children and staff here. Following the kitchen staff making us delicious pancakes for breakfast we walked back to their petting zoo and the man in charge spoke to us about the importance of this place for the children to develop many new life skills. We split in half and had jobs in either the Kitchen (helping to prepare lunch and dinner) or to help clean, paint and repair sections of the animal enclosures. These activities took us slightly out of our comfort zones, but we persevered with smiling faces and laughter knowing that the end result would be meaningful to the children.
In the afternoon we went back to our home rooms to say goodbye to the children and wish them all the best in their futures. As a group, we all really enjoyed Volunteering. It was an eye opening experience for us, and has really proved to us how privileged we are to have loving families who care for us every day.
By Tali Marx