Marching To a Different Beat with ALEH
April 27, 2008
Apr 27, 2008
ALEH is many things to its staff, residents and extended families, but hardly ever is it considered a respite from hard work. Nevertheless, for a group of Marchers for Israel it recently proved to be just that: a resting place and a break from a challenging journey. At the same time, ALEH also served as a source of inspiration to keep trekking onwards….
The marchers, who arrived for a day of volunteering at ALEH Negev, began their 900-kilometer trek along the paths of Israel in Eilat some 2 months ago, and just ended last week, chol hamoed Pesach, in Tel Hai. Some 6,000 people took part – young and old, religious and secular, comprising a group from across the spectrum of Israeli society and culture – in a journey of learning and discovery. The march was designed to focus on commemoration, renewal, and dialogue along Israel’s horizons, and to bring participants in contact with the mosaic of different people that represents Israel.
That is exactly what the marchers found at the ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village, which was the designated spot for a day of volunteering. They were greeted by Major General (Res.) Doron Almog, Chairman of ALEH Negev, who explained the history behind the establishment of the village. When he saw that his beloved son Eran, who was part of the ALEH network throughout his teenage years, required a new framework with more space and new challenges, he set his life’s goal to creating a long-term solution for Eran and his friends. Although unfortunately Eran passed away from a rare disease last year, the ALEH Negev village for developmentally disabled children and young adults is a tribute to his unwritten legacy. As Almog explained: “This village creates a vibrant community for the most disabled, people abandoned by regular society.”
The volunteering Marchers spent several hours together with residents, and were impressed by the level of care and commitment evinced by the staff. “Today is a different day. We have never had a day like this in all of our travels,” said one participant, as she walked alongside a wheelchair-bound resident. “I feel like I have created real bonds of friendship here on a deep level, even thought we have exchanged very few words.”
Marchers also noted the interesting parallels between themselves and ALEH Negev residents. “We are all traveling along an intersecting journey of life, navigating the challenges and bumps in the road as we go along,” said one of the volunteers. “Seeing how these special people must deal with adversity and struggle to overcome obstacles is both heartwarming and inspiring. We came here thinking just to give, but we ended up receiving as well. We are leaving here with such a wealth of experience and the momentum to go forth and move ever upwards.”
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