In a moving ceremony, 25 girls from overseas were awarded certificates of appreciation by OneFamily’s Chantel Belzberg, thanking them for their dedication and their decision to volunteer with families, all victims of terror.
The girls, all seminary students , spent a year in Israel, and chose to take time off from their busy schedules and studies to volunteer. They came from Australia, South Africa and the United States. For many it was their first encounter with families whose lives were shattered by terror.
Bat Galim Shaer whose son Gilad was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists five years ago, spoke to the girls on how important and meaningful their work was. “What you did at OneFamily is the answer to becoming a better person. The fact you volunteered each week is something special and meaningful to the injured and wounded families, who need us to be by their side.”
All the girls expressed what an impact their time with the families had on their lives. Many said at first they were unsure what to expect but their fears evaporated quickly once they met the children and gained their trust.
The girls were paired off and allocated to different families. Each week they spent time with the children, playing, taking them for a walk in the park – just being there for them. The language barrier was no obstacle.
“We loved playing with the children and taking them out,” Rivkah Abrams from Los Angeles said. Unlike the other girls she intends to remain in Israel and enlist in the army. “The experience was very meaningful for me, perhaps because unlike other organizations, here you see an immediate impact of what you are doing.”
Ellie Berger from Brooklyn echoed similar statements. Ellie who will return home in two weeks, said she will definitely recommend to her friends that they volunteer with OneFamily.
Kate Weinberg from New Jersey said she was just taken aback how happy the three children were each time she arrived to play with them at their home.
“I am obsessed with the children,” said Natanya Portel from South Africa. “It became my favorite time of the week and even though my Hebrew is not that good we got along fine. They are so special and I intend to keep in touch with them,” she said.