Denise is a proud WIZO Matan member and has always played an active and supportive role. The kids have been involved in many WIZO Kids events and are proud to be members too.
Account by Denise Kain, Melbourne
Last December and January, we were fortunate enough to realise our dream of travelling to Israel with our three daughters, then aged 13, 11 and 9. I was really pleased with the trip I’d planned out which included touring, visiting friends, and a special catch up with family flying in from the UK to see us. But given this was essentially a B’not Mitzvah trip for our two older daughters it needed something else. We organised a volunteering session, but given both girls had allocated donations to WIZO, we decided that a visit to one of the facilities would be very meaningful. Although I was really interested in visiting one of the women’s centres or the Ahuzat Yeladim boarding school in Haifa I had been a bit apprehensive as I didn’t want to be looking in at other people’s misfortunes. Knowing our girls, Shelley suggested going to the WIZO Raya Jaglom day care centre in Tel Aviv, which our girls got very excited about.
I arrived at the centre with my three daughters, with my husband joining us later. Everyone was so welcoming. The new centre director, Ayala, who splits her time between that centre and one of the others outside of Tel Aviv, showed us around the various rooms catering to three separate age groups. The rooms were all very spacious and had wonderful indoor / outdoor access, and there was a good staff to child ratio. What I noticed straight away was the variety of cultures and backgrounds of the staff; not just Jewish, Arab or Druze, but also Asian, German, Canadian, with a range of languages to be heard. Any child attending was likely to find some aspect of their culture represented amongst the carers.
We saw the baby and toddlers’ rooms, but once we got to the older room, with the three year olds, our three daughters became more involved. The children were outside playing and our girls were invited to join in. Soon they were surrounded by children, blowing bubbles, singing them songs and clapping hands. As the tour was in Hebrew, they decided to stay with the children and play a little longer.
Ayala then took us to see the kitchen and both the dry store and refrigerated areas. The centre is particularly focused on providing a variety of nourishing meals to the children throughout the week.
The children who attend the centre come from a range of backgrounds, but include some from very disadvantaged families. We were told there are some children who only eat at the centre, and who come in the morning wearing the same nappy they were sent home in the night before. So it was understandable that the focus is not just on the day care of the children, but rather their overall health and nutrition. Ayala’s pride on how much they are able to provide (they go through hundreds of kilos of meat each week, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables) illustrated her love and devotion for the children under her care. As well as the necessities, the niceties are also provided, with homemade cooking reflecting the different cultures of both the children and the staff!
There is also the support of a social worker to help parents. What I found incredible was that onsite there is a separate facility for after school care. Children come in from local schools, often those who have previously attended for day care, and have access to programs and computers, and importantly, receive a meal. Additionally, children from local sessional kinders can access childcare at the centre once their sessions have finished. As their parents are likely to be working, staff and volunteers from the WIZO Raya Jaglom Daycare Centre walk around to local kinders and schools to collect these children.
We enjoyed some refreshments, including some home baked goodies. Our daughters had joined us for morning tea after the tour, but rather than allow us to leave, Ayala and Noam, one of the room leaders, invited our girls to stay and help them give lunch to the children. My husband and I were sent off for a walk, and when we returned an hour later, our three ‘little’ girls seemed so grown up as they helped the children settle for their nap time.
Having the opportunity to see the results of WIZO’s work and the donations that come through was truly inspiring. It was one of the real highlights of our trip, which I believe will have a lasting effect on our daughters. Despite the modern miracle that is the State of Israel, there is still so much need to help the next generation grow to their full potential. It is very comforting to see what good hands they are in.