Monday, March 30, 2009

Volunteering in Kiryat Malachi, May 2008

In May of 2008, Barbara Goldberg spent 3 weeks volunteering in Kiryat Malachi. Her daughter, Mindy, had volunteered two years in town earlier as part of the Otzma program. Here are excerpts from an article Mindy wrote wrote for the Seattle Jewish newspaper:
Mindy Goldberg, host "Mom" from Moshav Hodya in Hof Ashkelon, and Barbara Goldberg

Kiryat Malachi - the City of Angels - is a 45 minute drive southwest of Jerusalem, though it seems as if it may be a different part of the world. There are no movie theaters, bowling alleys, internet cafes or night clubs. There are many synagogues for each of the ethnic and cultural groups who have immigrated to Kiryat Malachi. There are after school teen programs and a community swimming pool.

Many Seattle community members (including my daughter, Mindy, who spent 3 months living and volunteering in Kiryat Malachi) have written articles about their experiences in Kiryat Malachi. These articles have educated us on the difficult socio-economic issues that are relevant to a poor immigrant community. One of these issues is the lack of self worth. Many of the students asked "Why are you HERE?" as if why would anyone care about the youth of Kiryat Malachi.

For three weeks in May I had the opportunity to live in the volunteer apartment in Kiryat Malachi partially funded by the Jewish Federation of Seattle. During that time, I tutored English in 4th and 5th grades and helped high school seniors prepare for their oral English graduation exams.
Some of the youth at AMAL High School in Kiryat Malachi that Barbara worked with to improve their English skills.
In addition, I spent one day a week doing arts and crafts, exercise classes and Israeli dancing in the Adult Senior Day Center. (Herzl-Ner Tamid synagogue near Seattle has recently donated funds to improve the beauty salon in the senior center, an important service for the seniors.)
Senior and staff at Senior Center Women from Ethiopia working on Israeli Independence Day project at the senior center in Kiryat Malachi.Traditional crafts done by Ethiopian-Israeli seniors

I do not speak Hebrew and since Kiryat Malachi is not a typical stopping point for tourists, as well as it being an immigrant city, many people there do not speak English. Despite this communication barrier, I was able to satisfy all of my needs. The most challenging and humorous experience was grocery shopping in the small grocery stores in Kiryat Malachi. Since I also don't read Hebrew, I purchased products by picture only. Luckily, everything I bought was delicious!

One of the senior high school students shared her own personal poems written in English in hopes of having them published in an American newspaper. Here is one by Sharron on the blog:

You told me to count,
And I count pointlessly without will.
Tell me to count,
And then if I ran out of numbers
I can start again with some sheep,
Told me to count,
I count pointlessly -
Hopefully. I'll count some more,
I'll count the times
I've knocked at your door
Count the times
I had to endure
Splitting into two,
Just count, told me to count, the breaks, the poles the rods…
The words that are repeatedly coming, with one and same cause

I look forward to being fortunate enough to return to the warm and appreciative citizens of this wonderful Jewish community on an annual basis to spend a few weeks volunteering while I visit Mindy in Israel. Kiryat Malachi is growing - a new shopping center is being built and a new adult work-out gym opened earlier this year. I anticipate an increased pride and hopefulness in the citizens that will accompany this growth. .

No comments: