Ilka our volunteer from Hungary

Even though I had already had some experience with volunteering before I arrived to ALEH, so I knew more or less what to expect, the warmth and friendliness of the children still amazed me – and has continued to amaze me ever since.

Gaining one’s trust and finding a way to make him or her feel happy is a continuous work and it is different for each person. It teaches openness, creativity, spontaneity and there is nothing more precious than the reward that comes with it: a laughter, a hug or the simple fact that somebody remembers your name.

Gaining one’s trust and finding a way to make him or her feel happy is a continuous work and it is different for each person.

I think that the purpose of my being here is to make children feel loved, to make them feel how much they matter, to listen to them and to be there for them, but also to make them laugh as much as possible. This last thing seemed to me the trickiest of all, as initially I was convinced that I would need to fake happiness when being with them: I was afraid that thinking about the seriousness of their condition would cast a constant shadow on how I felt around them. And this is exactly the point where they proved me wrong, already during the first day that I spent with them. Their smiles and their laughter made me forget about everything and made me laugh with them carelessly. I am not saying that the thought about their illness does not hurt anymore – it does and always will. But if they are strong enough to overcome their situation and be happy, then who am I not to join them in their happiness? I am grateful to them for teaching me this lesson and I am grateful to ALEH for making this experience possible.

I am grateful for everything I have learnt here, about people in general and about myself. I am grateful for the feeling that I really belong here with the children hosted in ALEH, who became a second family to me.

One of my favorite books, whose action is taking place in Israel, is called מנוחה נכונה, ‘A Perfect Peace’. And indeed, during long walks in the park, during the games we play and – mostly – during Shabbat-evenings spent with the children, I feel a deeper and more complete peacefulness than I ever did before.

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