Apparently I had three sisters at ALEH
‘Jalla bye’ calls our taxi driver Jossi after he dropped Thirza and me off at the bus stop. In the meantime he is laughing at us because we both have to make an effort to stretch our skirts to the knee length. We are taking the religious bus to Jerusalem. The bus stops at Ofakim, in front of the flat where an orthodox Jewish girlfriend lives, who I was visiting only a day ago. At the stop, a woman gets in and calls enthusiastic “Hi Thirza how are you?” She is a staff member from ALEH Negev, the place we have worked for the past four weeks as volunteers.
Thirza worked often with this employee who by now has taken the seat next to us in the bus. As she looks at me she recognizes that she also saw me in ALEH Negev. Thirza explains that I am her sister and that after four weeks in ALEH Negev we will be staying in Jerusalem for another week. The employee responds surprised and says in a mix of English and Hebrew how beautiful it is that Thirza and I have worked together at ALEH.
It is indeed also quite nice. First of all, it was some kind of achievement that managed to convince Thirza to join me to Israel. When we arrived at Maslul after an incident with our lost backpacks and two nights in Tel Aviv it appeared that I had created high expectations for the house and work with Thirza. The volunteer’s house did not improve since last time I was there and I forgot to prepare Thirza for the chaotic Israeli way of working and living.
Fortunately, among the volunteers there was a very good company of two Finnish sisters, Venla and Aino. If we were in conversation with Israelis, we could usually find a good balance between discussing topics such as the Dutch grass and Finnish vodka. (That’s about half less talk about Dutch drug policy).
After a couple of weeks, we all had our routine (again) and we were known in many places as the sisters. Both in ALEH and in Maslul the time passed quickly and it was becoming more fun all the time. We became increasingly bonded with the fellow volunteers, the residents and the employees. One thing did not change: many employees still do not see the difference between Thirza, Venla and Aino. While the only resemblance is that all three have blond hair.
When Jossi picked us up with his taxi, we said goodbye to the other volunteers including Aino and Venla. For them, ALEH Negev’s time was not over yet. In the meanwhile, we arrived in Jerusalem where I was called by one ALEH’s staff members yesterday to meet in Jerusalem. At the end of the conversation she tells that she saw Thirza walking in ALEH that morning. She wondered if Thirza was still coming to Jerusalem…..
Apparently I had three sisters at ALEH.
By: Joëlle van Dijk
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