Yesterday I made my way back to the family club for volunteering. When I was there last week interviewing the caretakers and the children I knew I had to come back and give some of my time there. I told Ariel and Vanessa about it and we planned to all go once a week. Yesterday was our (minus Vanessa, she was unfortunately feeling under the weather) first day.
The children were so excited to see us when we arrived. They remembered who I was and I think it was comforting for them to see a familiar face. They also saw Ariel’s fresh new face, and much like everyone else in Israel, thought she was my sister.
When we got there the caretaker greeted us with some water and asked if we could help her with writing two letters. One letter is going to go to the South African Zionist Federation who recently pledged to open up a donation campaign for this particular family club. The letter will explain what exactly the family club is, personalize the children a bit more, and tell them what the children would like to have donated. The other letter (along with drawn pictures) will be more of a thank-you to two generous donors.
At the beginning of our arrival the children worked on drawing pictures of hearts and flowers. Ariel and I wrote different sentences such as “you are the light of my future” for them and they traced or copied free-hand on their paper. You have to remember that these kids write in Hebrew so this was not an easy task for them. One girl got really frustrated and gave up. I wanted her to know that earlier that day in Hebrew class I got really frustrated and wanted to give up.
After drawing for a little we went outside for recess. I kicked around a soccer ball for a little bit, but mostly just tried to dodge balls getting thrown at me. We then came back inside and the children drew more while Ariel and I tried to figure out the letter situation. In the end we, along with one of the caretakers, decided that we would work on the letters this week. We want them to sound good, and working on them while at the family club would have been too stressful and rushed.
The caretaker then made us some amazing tea, along with biscuits on the side of course. We watched the children play, and taught them some English words. Then we all ate dinner around a table together just like a family. The girl to my right was so funny and lovely. Last week she gave me a giant hug, she squeezed so hard – as though she never really gets to give/receive good hugs. This week she kept copying my every move, and she told Ariel she wants to be me, but since she can’t she will just copy everything I do. Too amazing!
After dinner we formed a circle and each child told Ariel and I things that they would like to have donated to the family club. We then talked about current events. After that we were lucky enough to have two girls put on a show and dance for us.
While the children were telling us what they would like to have donated, one of the girls said she would like to have transportation home at night. Her mom is sick and many nights she has to walk home alone. The walk home for her is about 10-15 minutes from the family club. At night when you are 8 years old, no matter where you live, this is not ideal. Last night Ariel and I offered to walk her home, and when we said Laila Tov I had finished my bowl of warm soup for my soul.
I was quite exhausted before heading to the Family Club, and we even got a little lost on the way. Before arriving I was a bit frustrated and wasn’t sure if I was up for getting myself into what I was about to do. But as soon as Ariel and I arrived I knew that I was where I wanted to be. I can not wait to play with the children next week! I already know it is going to be so hard to leave them but right now I want to focus on showing them as much love as I can give, and receiving as much love and pleasure back from them. One thing I do have to end with regards language barrier. All of these children speak Hebrew and no English. I speak English and very little Hebrew. I am starting to get to the point where I can write, read, and translate. I also can understand speakers if they talk slow enough. Even still, this was not the case with the children. But there were little moments when I would make eye contact with them and we would just give a big ol’ smile. I realized yesterday that no matter what language you speak giving a genuine, heartfelt smile is something that everyone can enjoy. Laila Tov!