Of course I knew before coming to Israel that the work I was about to begin was going to be challenging. Being an emotional person, I was certainly nervous to embark on this difficult journey working with people of cultures I had never encountered and dealing with issues I had never been exposed to. But still, you can’t always be prepared for everything.
Last week, after spending an amazing day learning about coexistence and meeting a group of Israelis and Palestinians who participate in cross-cultural understanding programs in Jerusalem, I got a call from my volunteering coordinator, Tamar. She wanted to let Julie and me know that we would no longer be working at the day care center where we have been spending time with the migrant workers’ kids every Wednesday morning. So, first off I have to inform all of you that I have been telling you the wrong thing about the day care center. I had thought that it was run by a governmental organization Mesila; I guess there was a miscommunication at some point. Anyway, the day care center was a privately owned place that was only overseen by Mesila, run by the Tel Aviv Municipality, after it was discovered. Apparently all of the day cares that are associated with Mesila are privately owned and often go a long time without being found because then, they are able to charge less to parents who can’t afford better ones and do not have to follow governmental standards.
Last week, during one of our shifts at this particular day care, a few Israelis came in and looked around. No one said much and then they left. I’m guessing they were checking out the place to see if everything was running smoothly. Obviously it wasn’t. Tamar explained that the owner of the center was warned several times to fix certain aspects of the day care and neglected to do so, ultimately causing her to be forced to shut it down. There is no telling exactly which day care centers the children will now find themselves, but it must be such a difficult adjustment. I felt angry and confused when I found out the news that I would no longer be working with the same children. Julie and I had just felt the week before that we had FINALLY broken some of the barriers with the toddlers especially the tough boys who wouldn’t play with us previously. Now we have to start over with a new set of kids. At first I wasn’t sure if wanted to take on this task, but after thinking it over for maybe 15 minutes I snapped out of my selfish thoughts and realized there was no question. Even spending a few weeks or months with these children I know will make a difference. Sure, it’s going to be emotionally difficult to start over and honestly, it sucks really bad that I didn’t get to say good-bye to the others, but I gotta do it. And you would too if you saw how cute they all were.
When Julie and I met with Tamar to talk about what had happened there, we ended up getting pretty chocked up about the whole thing. It was really tough to think about the parents and their little babies who have to relocate on a second’s notice, especially now because that’s exactly what we have to do too. “You’re living their reality,” Tamar said. And she’s absolutely right.
*Very soon to come: posts about trip to the Dead Sea & Judean Desert as well as a night out with my Sudanese students!