Joanne from Costa Rica to Bnei Brak

Hello, I am Joanne and I am a Costa Rican that currently live in Canada. This summer, I volunteered for 2 months at ALEH Bnei Berak.

During my time at ALEH I worked along with the adult residents. I would work one-on-one with most of the residents of my floor. We would individually work with an ‘eye gaze’-system where the residents were able to play simple games and make decisions through the movement of their eyes. Those that did not have the capability of using such a system would make use of an iPad. Each resident has different needs and preferences and I would accommodate to such, to make sure they would be having a good time and that they would enjoy their interaction with me. I would also help feeding the adults. In addition, I had the pleasure of attending a 3-day long retreat where about 30 different residents were taken to a resort in the North of Israel.

My time at ALEH definitely changed my life. At the beginning it was a little hard for me as the Bnei Brak-branch doesn’t have as many volunteers and very few of the workers were able to speak English, so communicating came very hard to me as my Hebrew knowledge is negligible. However, everyone I worked with at ALEH was extremely welcoming and the language barrier slowly was no longer a problem. The few people that spoke English would help me figure my way around and those that didn’t, made their best effort to communicate with me in different ways.  Every time I would walk into the building, I was received with an abundance of smiles and was always thanked for the help I was providing. I always felt appreciated and loved during my volunteering at ALEH.

…. one doesn’t even need to be capable of speaking in order to communicate.

Beyond the welcoming environment, the work I was able to do and the change I was able to create was extremely gratifying. ALEH taught me that one does not have to speak the same language in order to be able to communicate and even beyond that: one doesn’t even need to be capable of speaking in order to communicate. ALEH taught me that a simple smile can say everything you need. There was nothing else that made me happier than walking in the morning and seeing all the residents smile or show excitement as I would approach them and greet them.

ALEH taught me that boundaries are in our heads

ALEH taught me that boundaries are in our heads, whatever you want to achieve is possible as long as you work hard and you are given the right opportunities. ALEH is that force, by pushing and giving to so many persons the opportunities to work hard and to achieve better things.

Today, I look back and I am so thankful I was able to volunteer with ALEH. I was able to grow as a person and to learn that through small actions you can make a big difference.

Submit your story