My name is Emma Pearlman, I'm from Essex, UK and I am currently interning in the World WIZO Fundraising Department, helping to write grant proposals to support WIZO projects as well as writing reports on these projects.
This year on Israel's Good Deeds Day, Dalia Gantz, the Deputy Chairperson of WIZO's Leadership and Global Relations Division, and I visited the WIZO Beit Peru comprehensive day care center in Jaffa.
We arrived there in the morning and were greeted by Etti, the center's manager. After we were given breakfast, Etti told us a bit about the center and what they do. The Beit Peru day care center is very multicultural and serves children from a range of different backgrounds. In total, there are 91 children in the center, of which about one third are Arab and there are also many immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. Classes for babies and toddlers function from the morning until early afternoon. Other preschoolers are dropped off at the center in the afternoon and stay until 7 p.m. Around 30% of the children have been referred to the center by social services and these children stay for the entire day, as their homes do not provide a healthy living environment, and it has been decided that a day care center is a better solution for them than placement in foster care.
There are three different age groups at the center, ranging from three months old to three years old. Etti gave us a tour of the center and we met some of the children.
The day we came to visit the center just happened to be the day when there was a national emergency drill. At 11.05 a.m. a siren went off and we brought all the children to the designated shelter in the center. During the drill we sang songs with the children and got all the children to sing along, clapping their hands excitedly. This kept the children entertained as the siren went off and they were all very well behaved throughout the drill. Afterwards, one of the teachers explained to them a bit about what had just happened and what the procedure was.
Dalia and I then had time to go and play with the youngest group of children. We went to the outdoor play area and the children showed us some of their toys. They were all very excited and happy to play with us.
We then moved on to do some gardening with the slightly older children. There was a small garden area around the side of the building and we worked in small groups with only four or five children at a time. They all took turns and we helped them lay down new soil and plant seeds. We planted basil, tomato, cucumber, eggplant and lettuce. While we were working in the garden, the younger kids were having nap time.
After the gardening, we helped Etti and one of the teachers spray paint the words of a song onto the pathway that leads into the front of the centre. We used stencils and different coloured spray paints and the end result was great. It is very colorful and completely brightens up the entrance to the center.
After we finished, we had lunch and said our goodbyes. The whole day was very special. The children were so sweet and the entire staff was so welcoming and happy to have us. We felt the lovely bond the staff has with the children and all the children seemed very happy.
Volunteering at World WIZO headquarters in the Fundraising Division is a fantastic opportunity and getting to volunteer in a different capacity on this special day was very rewarding. It was an experience I will never forget.