Susanna’s volunteering story

I am Susanna from Finland. I spent six months volunteering in ALEH Gedera. At the time when I started my volunteering period in ALEH I had just graduated from high school and I wanted to have a gap year before continuing studies in university. My dream had been to spend a longer period of time in Israel, and when I heard about the opportunity to volunteer in ALEH, and especially after watching the introduction video from YouTube, I knew that this would be the place where I wanted to be.  

In ALEH Gedera I was mostly working with young girls: in the daytime at school, and the rest of the day in a girls’ house. Occasionally I was also working in a house for boys and girls in wheelchairs. My tasks as a volunteer were for example to play with the kids, take them for a walk outside, help them to participate in activities, feed them at lunch and dinner time, and simply just to be with them.  

I don’t even have enough words to describe my experience in ALEH, it was simply so incredible, unforgettable and life-changing for me. I could have never imagined what this experience would give me, and how much I would learn. I didn’t have any experience with people with disabilities before I came to ALEH, so I didn’t know what to expect. I went there with a heart full of love for the kids, and the way how they responded and showed love for me brought a smile on my face every day.  

I am hoping to come back to ALEH one day – but for now, a piece of my heart is left there.  

I learned so much. I learned to look at life from a different perspective. I learned to see how every one of the kids is a precious and unique human being. I learned to communicate without words. When I saw a smile on the kids’ faces, a twinkle in their eye, when they came to hug me, when they took my hand and held it – these little things melted my heart. The amount of love you get back when you love them is just indescribable. I learned the importance of little things. Sometimes these are the things that actually mean the most.  

In ALEH I fell in love with the kids so much that I got this dream to work with people with disabilities in the future too. It was in ALEH Gedera where I heard about occupational therapy, which sounded interesting to me. When the time came to leave Israel and go back to Finland, I applied to study occupational therapy, got accepted in a university, and now I am an occupational therapy student! I wouldn’t be studying this if I had never been to ALEH. So, also in this sense ALEH changed my life.  

I am grateful for my volunteering experience in ALEH, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I would recommend volunteering in ALEH for everyone who loves kids and wants to spend a few months doing something truly meaningful. I can promise that the experience will be rewarding in many ways.         

I am hoping to come back to ALEH one day – but for now, a piece of my heart is left there.

Naor and I
Hila and I
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