Whilst in Israel visiting my mother in September 2019, Grace and I had the honour of visiting several WIZO facilities sponsored by WIZO Australia.
First thing in the morning we visited the WIZO Shikun Mizrach Daycare Centre in Rishon Le Zion. We were greeted by the centre Manageress and Annette Crandell, Deputy Director Fundraising Division of World WIZO.
We spent time in each of the 3 rooms which were based on the children’s age groups. The rooms were spacious with a lot of natural light and decorated for the upcoming Jewish New Year festivities. The children were having various activities be it a sing along with their teachers or an art activity. The children looked happy, well presented and full of life. In the playground we met the Kinder age children who were engaged in play time. As we were a novelty, Grace and I joined into some of their activities/games such as singing and dancing and playing ball games.
We were treated by the kitchen staff to a snack of cold drinks and freshly baked rolls. They were delicious!!! By the way we went into the kitchen to thank the kitchen staff for our morning tea and the kitchen looked amazing and clean.
At 11:00 we were driven to Ahuzat Yeladim Boarding School in Haifa.
We arrived at the school just before lunchtime and were greeted by Yossi Saragossi, who is the Centre Director.
Yossi whisked us off to his office for a sit down meeting/overview of the school and gave us a brief history of the school, an understanding of his role and of the children (ages 12 – 18 years old) who reside there.
Yossi described in detail (as far as permitted) the background of the occupants, the reason behind them being there and what this unique school provides for the children, whether it be in having a sense of having a “loving family environment”, education, being taught tertiary skill sets (such as baking and beautician skills) and work responsibility outside the school to prepare the young adults for once they are ready to move on.
I don’t think there was anyone in the room that had a dry eye! It was very emotional, especially as parents of children, to hear Yossi speak in such an explicit way and with such warmth and caring towards all the children!!!
Next, Yossi took us on a tour of the grounds where we saw the Don Marejn Dormitory and the Jonas Dormitory from the outside and inside. The new rooms, which have just been renovated and fully funded by WIZO Australia’s kind and generous donations, were outstanding!!! We hope that the photos we have taken do justice to what we saw and we hope that further money can be fundraised to complete the rooms!
We then visited the bakery which was a highlight. We arrived at the right time at the end of a class baking session, so we met several young teenagers, their teacher who sounded amazing and saw the “fruits of their labour”; freshly baked biscuits and bread. Can’t tell you how much we enjoyed eating some samples of some of their work and we also bought some to take away with us!!! We were advised that it is wise for any future visitors to actually pre order the goods they wish to purchase as there are not always leftovers after every baking session.
Yossi then hosted us for lunch in the dining room, so we got to meet the dining room and kitchen staff. During this time there were youth also having lunch (primary age group who only come into the school to eat but don’t live on the premises), so we had an opportunity to see for ourselves how mealtime works.
One needs to actually visit the school to understand, appreciate the amount of work and love that goes into providing a secure and loving environment for these youth (children at risk), who have had very sad lives and it made us realise how fortunate we are.