Volunteer for Community Aid and Development
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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!.
My favorite part of the day was on the way to the Old City when we passed a group of palm trees. Our guide made us stop and told us to look at all the trees. He asked if they were all the same and then explained how each palm tree was a tree that grew slightly differently. For me this was the perfect image of Israel, a place where everyone is growing separately yet still a unit growing and developing together. It made me realize that life is not about them or us, but about everyone just in different places.
The most rewarding feeling was when the kids homework was 100% correct, and they would get a sticker for writing three good characteristics, or correctly solving a math problem. Every day volunteering in Sri Lanka was a new adventure, and every night as I lay in bed wrapped tightly in a mosquito net and doused in mosquito repellent, I felt that I had made a difference; and alongside me was my friends from numerous other countries, relishing with me in the same feeling of and overwhelming joy.
I was lucky enough to be teaching the Masai, who were adults in the local tribe trying to learn to read and write Swahili and speak small bits of English which would help in the tourist industry. Many of them worked as guards or for a local hotel which meant it was good to know some English as well as Swahili. They were all lovely, and were always excited and willing to learn; it was amazing seeing how happy they were after we would tell them they had got something right.
We planted vegetation to help stop erosion, prepared plantings in our homestay, went on a six hour trek, visited a number of historical and Buddhist sites and experienced the culture with the Akha people almost continually throughout the week. The Akha are the most tolerant and accepting of others of any group I have ever met. As far as an immersion learning experience goes, it would be hard to match.
I do not have enough words to describe the depth of the experience. I only know that the people I’ve met have influenced my life and I strongly recommend volunteering in this village. They need lots of help in establishing educational center and the overall experience for the volunteers is one of a kind and very rewarding… I recommend it to all those interested.
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