Volunteer in the Middle East
When the time came to say goodbye, I realized that 2 weeks were definitely not enough to explore everything that this place has to offer. I loved every minute of it – the warmness of the sun, the peacefulness of the desert and of the animals, the kindness of the people I have met, the wonderful mix of sights, tastes and sounds and all kinds of experiences that were sometimes challenging and sometimes comforting. I would like to thank Go Eco, my fellow volunteers and everyone at the reserve for making this a one in a lifetime experience for me.
Working at the wildlife center has the perfect balance of being active and relaxing, and even many of the volunteer tasks have a very noticeable rhythm and method. It was so easy for me to adapt for this reason, and my volunteer hours gave me so much time to reflect on my experiences while simultaneously helping a small ecosystem.
Exploring the vast, ancient city of Jeresh on our first day was an incredible introduction – the city of a thousand pillars didn’t disappoint! You wouldn’t expect an ancient, Roman city quite like it, so far east and so well preserved; but it certainly was impressive, sticking out like a sore thumb against the backdrop of the modern, Middle Eastern apartments only a stone’s throw away.
It was an excellent location to learn about the +/- 1100 species present in the Red Sea. Together with Leras, a marine biologist, I received her help in analyzing the photographic material (pictures) from my UW camera. Initially I was only interested in fish species, though after a while I started to do some coral identification as well. In the Red Sea this is pretty much amazing!
My main task every day was to walk the dogs, a very satisfying thing to do. It’s great to see the happiness in their eyes and to watch them play with each other in the backyard. When I was not volunteering in the Animal Shelter, I enjoyed the city of Tel Aviv. The beach is beautiful! And I had a lot of fun with my new friends that I made at the hostel. Tel Aviv is a great city to shop and walk. There are markets, dog parks and the beautiful HaYarkon Park.
There is a very special thing about this population, you can form relationships without much conversation. Even though I speak basic Hebrew, it wasn’t enough to converse; however, I was able to make quick connections with the participants by engaging in the activities that they enjoyed i.e. jewelry making and card games.
I loved working in the garden, Shlomo was a great teacher. It was lovely being able to spend a few hours under the sun, working with such beautiful flowers; especially since I come from a big city! The plants grown in the greenhouse are also grown by the students, and they later sell them to raise money for the school. I also got to work with the animals, which was my favorite part. The school has chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, birds, chinchillas, and more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. I loved my baby goats the most!.
When I looked into the details of the project, the description explained that I would be working in a therapeutic garden. I wasn't too sure what this meant... but it sounded like a unique challenge that I could immerse myself in. I soon found out that this garden was less about the flowers and plants, and more about the people. I was fortunate enough to have kindhearted and soft-spoken managers that taught me how to work with the nature and children simultaneously.
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