A legacy of a child

A safe net for thousands of children and adults with different abilities

Waking up in Jerusalem, breathing in the fresh air and surrounded by ancient culture and historical landscapes, my amazing volunteer days started by walking one hour at dawn to ALEH – not only a home sweet home for children and adults with different abilities, but also a place for them to learn and explore their full potential!  To give just a few examples, Rafael’s favorite hobby was to “read” the morning newspaper by looking at the photos while he went through his daily routine of rehabilitation exercises.  He could recognize and show you the Prime Minister of Israel in newspapers whenever asked to.  Nisim loved music and liked to dance to it and with other people, though he’s in a wheelchair. Whenever he heard music playing, he’d get a big smile on his face, he seemed as free as a bird.  Roni, the most smiley, precious princess in our class, enjoys “girl time” very much. She was thrilled to have makeup done up and her nails polished.  Though rehabilitation stretching exercises could be tough on her, she would still try to squeeze a smile in the midst of her discomfort, which encouraged us to keep going.  Daniel, oh, Daniel, he was so smart, focused and affectionate. I still remember that he and Nisim observed how I interacted with other classmates before deciding whether he would let me get close to him.  The joy was overwhelming after Daniel and all of the classmates accepted me as their friend and let me to be one of them.

My heart is filled with deep gratitude for ALEH’s children and their caretakers, teachers, therapists, staff and volunteers.

People often said the easiest job is to be an auntie, which is absolutely true, especially at ALEH. I was a happiest auntie ever to be able to greet the children with “boker tov” (“good morning” in Hebrew) every morning with my loud voice and stilted Hebrew, push them into classrooms, feed them breakfast, accompany them to study, play with them and assist them with their exercises. The hard jobs, such as waking these children up, showering them, dressing them, feeding them and changing diapers were all done by devoted care takers. Warmhearted teachers and staff brainstormed constantly to develop interesting tools and curricula to stimulate these childrens’ and adults’ five senses and explore their potential. Through that, each child’s and adult’s unique communication pattern was identified, making it easier for them to understand and be understood.  Furthermore, more training was provided to them so that they could learn how to take care of themselves in their daily life, such as eating meals by themselves, walking and going to the bathroom.

Built on a child’s legacy, ALEH is a place for everyone, not only for children and adults with different abilities, but also for you and me, who ended up receiving more than what we could ever have contributed. My heart is filled with deep gratitude for ALEH’s children and their caretakers, teachers, therapists, staff and volunteers.  It was so difficult to say goodbye at the end of my three-month volunteer work.  The experience provided me with immense humility and respect for the kids’ resilience and ALEH’s approach of never giving up and staff, teachers, caretakers, supporters and volunteers who just kept going, all the time. Thank you so much for having me!

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