Two-year-old Omar and his little classmate Shoshi have been at the WIZO Multipurpose Day Care Center since they were both six months old.
Omar, an Arab Israeli, lives with his parents and six siblings. He is the youngest child. His father works long hours in the building trade and his mother stays at home and looks after her children.
At first, Omar’s mother, Fatima, did not want to send Omar to day care at such a young age. However, having to look after her sick and elderly father after her mother died and with all the pressures of looking after her large family, she agreed to send him to the local WIZO Multipurpose Day Care Center. Her friend and neighbor, a Jewish woman, whose daughter Shoshi had just started to attend the WIZO Day Care Center, had told her that at the day care center there were babies and children of all backgrounds and that she knew that Omar would thrive there.
Fatima was still apprehensive when she took Omar there for the first time, but the caregiver who took Omar in her arms and kissed him just as if he was her very own child reassured her.
Omar rewarded the caregiver, a young Ethiopian woman, with smiles and laughter as she gently led him away from his mother and set him down on the padded floor mat next to Shoshi and the other babies under the watchful eyes of another caregiver, an Arab lady whose eyes twinkled as she played with the wide-eyed babies.
Both Shoshi and Omar are now happy little toddlers along with their little day care center friends, children from all colors of the rainbow, from all races and religions. Together they celebrate the festivals of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions, and they sing songs of peace and coexistence.
Omar’s mother, whose elder children all attend school, is undergoing a WIZO operated course to retrain as a metapelet (caregiver). She often comes into the day care center to volunteer and she says, in her own words:
“It fills my heart with such great pride to see all the children so well cared for and happy. My husband was resistant to Omar attending the day care center, but since he came and saw for himself how beautifully, all the children play together, and how the parents gather to join in all the different religious festivals, he was very impressed and he has encouraged me to volunteer here. To me, all the babies are Omar and Shoshi. I love them all as my own.”
Through Fatima’s involvement with the WIZO Day Care Center, her social circle has widened and she now enjoys the company of many of the other mothers, who though different in culture and religion, are just like her – mothers who only want the best for their children.
(Names changed to preserve anonymity)
(Photo for illustration purposes only)