I first volunteered at the English speaking Melabev Memory Centre in Jerusalem in January 2015, whilst my husband worked for a week with deprived children at the Trudi Birger Dental Clinic also in Talpiot.
When he suggested returning to the clinic for another week at the end of August, I had no hesitation in asking whether I could help again at Melabev.
My second visit was as inspiring and uplifting as the first. I was welcomed back so warmly by all the amazing staff and was touched that one of the members also remembered me.
This time, I had the privilege of spending a little time in the kitchen assisting Janice, who was catering for about 80 club members. The members of the club are served breakfast, a mid morning snack and a nutritious three course lunch so the kitchen has to run like clockwork – and so it does! Janice does an amazing job.
On this visit I also spent more time with the group suffering from the most severe degree of memory loss. For me this was challenging and I have the utmost admiration for the wonderful staff who engage each club member at a personal and individual level and cater for their widely differing needs. The use of music tailored to the individual and relayed through headphones brought visible responses from otherwise unresponsive individuals. More generally, music plays an important part of the programmes in all 3 rooms and the sound of the songs from well known musicals, as well as prayers, often resonated through the centre.
I remember during my first visit being able to help one of the ladies in the lowest functioning group to build the names of her husband and her children with Scrabble letters and I was able to do the same again this time, with the mentioning of the names bringing a warm smile to her face. One of the members refused breakfast when it was offered. The leader of the room knew that this was not because she didn’t want it and I was asked to sit down and feed her. It took a long time but with my help she finished the full plate of food!
Stimulating activities are scheduled for all the groups at Melabev and on my last day the gardening therapist came in and we worked with the more responsive members of the lowest functioning group to plant shrubs and flowers.
Once again the week flew by and I thank Skilled Volunteers for Israel for arranging the placement and all the people at Melabev for making it such a wonderful experience. I wish you all a healthy, happy and fulfilling New Year.
Marilyn D, London