I can barely describe the time I had in ALEH Negev, but if you would ask me for one word to do it, I would probably say: special.
In summer 2016 I graduated from high school and decided to go to ALEH Negev for 6 months. I heard about ALEH in my church and I knew that it was on me to go there. I didn´t know why, actually I thought it´s kind of crazy, because having contact and working with disabled people was totally new to me. But still I decided to go, got prepared and finally arrived in Israel at Rosh Hashana. The first weeks were strange but also exciting – strange, because I arrived at the beginning of a vacation season, it was Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, so actually there wasn´t one “normal” week and everything was so different. But as I said it was also very exciting, because it was a new country, a new language, a new culture, new work, new friends,… to make it short: everything was new, which also means challenging sometimes! But I met so many nice people, who tried to make it as simple and good as possible for me – I´m very grateful for everyone: the Bnot Sherut (National Service Girls), the volunteer coordinator and everyone else. Another thing that made this time very exciting was all the travelling, in 2 months I probably travelled more than in 19 years of my life. I went to a lot of places, saw so many beautiful things and was allowed to meet people that I will always keep in my heart.
Well I could tell thousands of stories but I wanna try to summarize what made ALEH so special to me: ALEH is known as a place where people look beyond the disability of the residents and see the real personality and I could also learn this. But they´re not just looking beyond the disabilities but also beyond differences between the workers in a cultural and religious way. I came to Israel as a Christian and met religious and not-religious Jews, Arabs, Bedouins, Ethiopians,… Israel is so multicultural. I met so many different people and with a lot of them I couldn´t even really talk because they didn´t speak English and I didn´t speak Hebrew or Arabic, but somehow it worked that well that I had a lot of fun and didn´t want to leave them in the end. Mostly we found a way of communicating, for example with hands and feet or just through work and the love we shared for the residents. One thing that really impressed me was the pureness of the residents, everything they do is so honest, they couldn´t pretend anything, they just try to express what they think and feel. And if you got into somebody’s heart, you get so much love, it´s just incredible! I wanna tell one particular story: after about 5 months my parents came to visit for a few days and I showed them the village and all the residents I worked with. There was one girl in my group, we had a very special connection and when I came with my parents and introduced my mum to her, she just hugged and kissed her – we were both so touched.
Saying goodbye to ALEH after 6 months was probably the hardest thing in my whole life, I was crying because I didn´t want to leave them. Everyone just became a part of me and I already missed them. Now I can only say that it was worth every hard and tough day and thanks to everyone I met and to everyone with who I could share this amazing time.