Warm Wartime Words from around the World
February 3, 2009
Feb 3, 2009
A New York State of Mind
I’m back in NY now, reflecting on my latest trip to Israel, and I have only one thought in mind: There is no other place in the world I would rather be right now AGAIN than ALEH NEGEV!
I was fortunate enough to be in ALEH Negev during the last war in Gaza, among a group of very special people; and when I say special people I mean both the residents and the care providers.
I was very fortunate to live and work in the village, when Red Alerts of incoming rockets forced the village to operate under emergency regulations.
Both the residents and the staff were forced to stay indoors close to the protected areas, which meant that most of the regular activities were canceled, forcing the staff to find other means to keep the residents busy and active during the day time. During the night, mattresses were put on the floor of the shelter to keep them all together in the protected area. However, due to the special needs of some of the residents, they were left to sleep in their own rooms, and so during Red Alerts our jobs were to pick up the kids from their beds and run or carry them to the shelter within 30 seconds.
Needless to say, it was not an easy time – neither for the residents or for the staff – but I have never seen such devotion, dedication and effort – from the care providers, nurses, all the specialists, the drivers, teachers, social workers, and administration. Every day, all of them left their homes, kids and family who were under rockets attacks themselves, to come to work under these uneasy conditions to say the least. These people are the real heroes of the time.
During my time in ALEH I felt that a special bond had formed between the staff, the residents and me. I feel like I have one more home in Israel, and one more family…the family of ALEH Negev.
I want to thank you all…
For making me feel so welcome THANK YOU!!!
For letting me share your good times and bad times THANK YOU!!!
For the big smiles and warm hugs of the residents that let me help them THANK YOU!!
For showing me that a big heart can overcome big rockets THANK YOU!!
I LOVE YOU ALL, I MISS YOU ALL
A Parent’s Part
I’ve been the parent of an ALEH child for some time now, but last night I had the remarkable privilege to join the ALEH Negev staff as a volunteering parent. Coming home this morning, I felt an overwhelming need to write to you about the experience and try to describe some of my feelings, and I hope you will choose to share this letter with your incredible staff.
This was the first time I had the opportunity to see the entire village. In every building and in every room that I entered, I saw skilled staff members caring for the residents in a most professional manner. But that is not what I found so moving.
Actually, what moved me most was not what I saw, but what I felt.
The security situation only heightened my ability to perceive and feel what had always been there. In every single place I entered, there were tangible feelings I could almost touch – feelings of love, joy and commitment. This was expressed in the authentic, natural loving gazes and caresses that passed between the staff and the children and back again. And that same feeling was also present between the staff members themselves. There was such a powerful, evident connection between every person in the village, that at times it was hard to tell who was a caregiver and who was a patient. Everything flowed as one entity, in harmony and genuinely, without any effort or stiltedness.
Close to 7:00 a.m., I found myself wondering how the new day would begin, and whether the next shift of staff would change the dynamic. In stark contrast to most work places, the ALEH staff arrived a few minutes before work began, and before they even changed into their work clothes, they came in to give greet the children with a loving ‘good morning!’. This wasn’t a gesture of politeness; it came from the real connection that had been forged between these people, a connection that transcended abilities or positions in life.
What I saw and felt at ALEH Negev during those few short hours I was there is hard to describe in words. We live in an action-oriented, result-driven world, where it seems that work is a type of routine. And in a lot of places that’s how it is, but not at ALEH Negev. At ALEH Negev you can feel a much stronger force hovering above everything, something so much more powerful. You can feel that the staff and the residents are taking advantage of every moment, seeing it as an opportunity to bring forth another incredibly strong wave of warmth and love. This is expressed in every single activity, conversation and even in a simple gaze.
These outstanding efforts are the direct result of the quality of the people in the village and the tremendous emotional intuition with which you have been blessed – you and your entire staff.
As a parent, I thank G-d for having created people like you and a place like this.
With my greatest appreciation,
The recent war – Operation Cast Lead – brought Yuval and many other parents, to volunteer at ALEH Negev, to offer support and a pair of extra hands. While Yuval was at ALEH Negev, he captured some of the people and emotions on film. The short video in Hebrew, which you can view here, is unedited, as it shows the real reactions and feelings of real people, doing their best to cope with life under fire.
Kudos to the parents, staff and residents of ALEH Negev for their courage, and for the outpouring of love and dedication that connect us all – through wartime and peacetime.
Keeping Up from Down Under
Dear ALEH Negev,
We are the Australian Girls that volunteered in ALEH Negev near Ofakim during the middle of 2008. We have been following the recent news and saw that Ofakim was bombed, so we are sending you our warm regards and support. If there is anything we can do please let us know. We are with you at this difficult time.
Lots of love,
Daniella, Lisa, Jackie, Maia, Louise, Dani and Rebecca