Skilled Volunteers was fantastic in setting me up quickly with two very interesting opportunities, helping me achieve my goal of giving back to the community.
Having arrived in Israel at the beginning of the Succot holidays, I was able to help the staff of a school that were running a day camp during the school break for developmentally challenged children in south Tel Aviv. The children ranged in age from 4 to 14, and had a variety of different challenges. I showed up for the daily staff meeting (more of a coffee/schmooze session) and once the children had arrived we gave them a hot meal in the classrooms. The staff made me feel a part of their group from the beginning.
As the activities are a bit unstructured, I found it worked best if I stayed low-key and waited for the right moment to contribute to the activities. This meant helping serve food, watch the kids play in the yard, defuse situations, and organise a loose version of a soccer game, to name some. I found that my working knowledge of Hebrew, while far from perfect, was most useful in helping me contribute to the day camp and to share experiences with the children.
Not having any life experience with children such as these, it was most rewarding as I discovered that while they perceive the world differently from most people, everyone really just wants to laugh and be happy while being surrounded by friends.
I would very much like to thank Marla in NYC and Minna in TA for making it possible for me to help others, and for making the arrangements so quickly and efficiently.