Monique is from Taiwan and has previously worked in management positions at non-governmental organizations. At the moment, she is writing her doctorate in social work.
She came to Israel and to ALEH though an advertisement which the Israeli Ministry of Social Welfare published in Taiwan.
During a meeting at her place of work as a volunteer, I ask her why it was particularly Israel she wanted to go to as a volunteer: “Two thousand years of civilization meet modernity here. Both the country and the people fascinated me.” For her volunteer service, Monique was selected by the Ministry of Welfare and sent to ALEH. Most likely, this had something to do with her 16-year experience with NGOs, among them also organizations which supported the disabled. Monique wished to work with children and that’s how she came to volunteer at ALEH. Now she is taking a hands-on approach as a volunteer at ALEH every day.
When asked about her first impressions, Monique replies: “I was immediately impressed by the staff and teachers. I can see how much love they give the children and how the children can communicate with them. These children understand, they feel and they can express themselves in their very own way. Every time I watch the children, I get tears in my eyes because it is so heartwarming to see their zest for life.”
As someone who came to ALEH with much professional experience, Monique adds: “The first thing I noticed was that everything is clean and smells well. The hygiene of the residents is impeccable. Most people have no idea how important and how difficult it is to maintain a high level of hygiene.”
At the end, I also ask Monique what she has learnt at ALEH besides her daily work. Monique recounts her experiences from various countries she has worked in and how disabilities equate with powerlessness. In particular the parents often worry about who will take care of their children when they get old or die. ALEH has painted a different picture for Monique. At ALEH, every person has dignity, is accepted the way he or she is, and all are well taken care of. ALEH becomes their home. This vision Monique will take home with her.