Yesterday was a magical day for many of Orr Shalom’s children. It started like any normal day, getting ready in the morning and going to school. But when they came back to their Family Group Homes they thought that fairies had visited and worked a magic transformation! There were shrieks and squeals of delight as they ran around the homes and gardens oohing and ahhing about the changes that were made while they were out.
Yesterday was Good Deeds Day in Israel and Orr Shalom was blessed to have over a hundred wonderful volunteers. They came and got their hands dirty working on six of our houses which are homes to children who have been removed from their homes after suffering from abuse and neglect. The volunteers came as organized groups from companies who support our work financially throughout the year. This was the day that the employees got involved and represented their companies, who provided thousands of shekels worth of equipment and supplies. Some of the teams brought along plumbers, electricians and handymen, who were able to make professional repairs.
They spent the day hammering, painting, fixing and gardening, working together with lots of energy and a really positive attitude. The workers from Sapiens painted our home in Holon and made a comfy sitting area for the kids to hang out in. Some of the staff from Yoseftal Medical Center in Eilat spent the day working on the garden and planting flowers at our home there. Bank Jerusalem sent a team to fix up an intensive care facility in Jerusalem where twenty-four boys live and there is a lot of wear and tear. These are just a few of the projects that were taken on yesterday, where volunteers took a day out from their usual routine, rolled up their sleeves and got sweaty and dirty working together. There was a tangible positive energy in the air in all the homes and at the end of the day the workers were so pleased to stand back and see what a huge improvement they had made in just one day. They had a lot to be proud of.
The children from the care facility in Jerusalem were taken out on a fun daytrip that was organized by another team from Bank Jerusalem. They were really excited when they saw the changes that had been made while they were out.
One of my favourite commitments that I do once a month is to cook a chicken for a family in need. I think about them as I choose the chicken in the supermarket, clean and prepare it and pop it in the oven, and as I take it to the lady who will deliver it to the family. Even though I have been doing this for several years, I have never met this family and don’t know anything about them. I don’t know why they need this meal or what their family situation is, but I know that as I sprinkle on the seasonings, I think about how awful it must be to be in such a desperate situation to have to receive food like this, and how blessed I am to be on the side of the givers and not the receivers. It’s this ‘hands on’ chessed that really makes us stop for a minute and think about those who have less than us, or who were dealt a harsher lot in life. We think about their daily struggles and try to imagine what they have to go through.
The volunteers who painted and fixed up the homes yesterday saw the bedrooms, the toys, clothes and pictures of the children living in our care in a Group Home. I’m sure they were thinking of these children all day as they worked to make the home a nicer and more welcoming place. And I’m sure that they hugged their own children extra tight when they got back to their family in the evening.
The most impressive and touching story of the day for me was from the girls in Bet Goldschmidt, who are some of the most abused and troubled girls in our care. They decided that they wanted to join in the giving and be part of the Good Deeds Day. They spent time making and painting the boxes that you see in the picture, and then manned a stall at a nearby college, selling their artwork to the students. The girls discussed where to give the money that they made and decided to use it to buy food for people in need. The sale was a huge accomplishment for these girls who have suffered from such trauma in their lives and are dealing with serious psychological issues and the lowest possible self-esteem. It was a major milestone in their recovery, as they changed their outlook and view of themselves and were able for the first time, to become givers and contributors to society. Kol Hakavod to them, and to all who gave of their time and efforts yesterday.