I have known WIZO since I was a child. I knew about WIZO from my mother and my grandmother. Although they were not volunteers, they often spoke about the organization.
I came to volunteer with WIZO by chance. I was producing an exhibition at the Vienna Museum, when a WIZO volunteer approached me and asked if I could put on a similar exhibition of WIZO women in Austria. I agreed and met with all the women who were members of WIZO in Vienna to interview them for the exhibition. During the course of my discussions with them, they continually brought up the problem of finding young members, and were very concerned that their activities would close down.
Their worries began to affect me, and I began think. I realized that they just weren’t approaching people in the right way. There is a WIZO AVIV group in Vienna with women aged 40 and over, with families. This type of group isn’t suitable for young women of 20-30. I understood that if there was a group for this age, there would be a demand.
Since there we had a very good relationship, they asked me if I was prepared to produce an evening aimed at younger women, and I immediately agreed. Our president, Dr. Hava Bugajer, thought it was an excellent idea and supported it from the beginning. The first evening that I organized was a meeting with a rabbi who dealt with family purity. I thought that girls of my age, who are not married, are not aware of what is permitted and forbidden in all matters relating to sex.
It was a very successful evening. Twenty-five girls turned up. The meeting was fascinating. It was important to keep the character of the group for young girls, and we prepared cakes in WIZO style for a homey atmosphere.
Today, four years later, we are a group of about 25 young women. The group is smaller than we would like and we are continually trying to find ways to interest new members.
I began to volunteer because I felt a big personal challenge. I wanted to show my friends that my generation can volunteer and contribute, if they are approached in a relatable way. The first meetings with the chaverot were, from my point of view, amazing. I loved them, they radiated a lot of warmth, they invited me to their homes, cooked dishes that I like, which reminded me of my grandmother; I felt at home. When I began to enroll young members I felt that I was carrying out a mission and it excited me. During the journey I have learned many things about myself, about the connection between helping children in Israel and helping myself, personally – they are a winning combination! I learned how to produce large events, to conduct negotiations and I acquired tools which will help me throughout my life.
The most exciting moment for me was when I visited a WIZO day care centre in Rehovot, which is sponsored by WIZO Austria. Suddenly, everything came together. All the big fundraising events that I organized became reality. I always knew that we were helping Ethiopian children, but now I could hold these sweet children, and I met with their amazing teachers– I understood what my work is for. They smiled at me and they were happy, I was happy too. I understood that my work has a real effect on the lives of the children, that it makes a difference.