By Stan Kalinko
Today was a big and exhilarating day. We started at 8:30am and ended at 7:30pm. We visited three WIZO centres:
*Chorley Daycare Centre*
On the bus on the way, Venetia Kalinko shared with us her connection to this Centre. Venetia is Co-President of WIZO Rachel in Sydney. They were told that this Centre needed a new kitchen and wet rooms (bathrooms and toilets). They immediately commenced raising the funds to build these new facilities there. After the completion of the kitchen, bathrooms and toilets, we visited the centre and met with the director, Rina. She advised us that until the new kitchen was built, the facilities were old and only had milchig facilities. The new kitchen has both milchig and fleishig facilities, enabling the staff to provide hot meat lunches for the kids, many of whom only have one proper meal per day which was at the Centre, as they come from underprivileged homes.
Rina told us that the Centre has 78 children, 18 between the ages of three months and 1.2years, 27 between the ages of 1.2years and 2years and 33 children, aged
When we arrived, there was a festive atmosphere with music. The children were holding Australian flags and wearing I love WIZO Australia t-shirts.
The Director, Yossi Saragossi, welcomed us and told us that this Centre is often a last resort for children in need. Children are sent by the court, by welfare authorities and by psychiatrists.
We then proceeded to the official opening of the new Jonas Dormitory.
Professor Rivka Lazovsky welcomed us to the flagship Australian project in Israel. She said that this home is an anchor, refuge and a happy place to live. From 1939 children who had nowhere else to turn to have been accepted by the Centre, which provides a loving home for these children. She said that this home is a testament to Australia for a lifesaving place which teaches the children to believe in themselves
Then the Australian Ambassador to Israel, Chris Cannan, addressed us and said that many of his high points as Ambassador has been with his affiliation to WIZO and his visits to some of our projects.
Then the Mayor of Haifa, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, addressed us and said that the home assists children to be independent and functioning people. She said that we “need you and cherish you“ and that the city of Haifa will be there to assist wherever possible.
Then one of the girls, Shelley, sang a beautiful song.
Esther Mor then advised that the new dormitory caters for 20 boys between the ages of 14 – 16years and these boys become productive members of society. She particularly welcomed the daughter and granddaughters of Rose Fekete z’l and paid tribute to Rose who passed away recently, as well as to Jo Gostin OAM z’l who also passed away recently.
Paulette Cherny then addressed us and said that she first visited the home 40 years ago and was astounded at the work that WIZO Australia has done, with the tremendous help of the Director, the “legendary Yossi”.
Yossi referred to the 1953 diary of Benjamin Jonas who wrote that the situation at the home was terrible, no learning was taking place, the boys were doing what they liked, there was complete freedom. The boys were dirty because there was no shower and also no hot water and that with the help of WIZO Australia the position has been improved dramatically
Uri, the son of the Director Benjamin Jonas, then addressed us. He thanked us for honouring his father and advised that his father had lived at the home 24 hours a day seven days a week and that his mother was the nurse there. He said that this school was not an institution but a home for the children and that Australia had always been very important in the development of the home including Australian soldiers who brought food and sweets to the children from time to time.
Betty Dykes, from Queensland, presented five handmade quilts, made by the WIZO Kesher members on the Sunshine Coast. She also presented one to Uri. Simonne Abadee from Jerusalem, also presented a handmade knitted blanket she had made
Dennis, one of the students addressed us and advised how, in his first year he could not speak Hebrew and had no friends but by his fourth year he was comfortable, confident and happy. He said he couldn’t have achieved what he has done without Ahuzat Yeladim. He intends to go to university and thanks WIZO for building this new home, although he prefers to call it a hotel rather than a home.
Rivka then presented to Paulette, in her capacity as the WIZO Australia President, a golden key being a symbol of the countless doors that WIZO Australia have opened and continue to open. She said that we do a sacred mission in a sacred way. She also gave Paulette a T-shirt that the children were wearing when we arrived at the home which said “I love WIZO Australia ” on the front and “Happy birthday Ahuzat Yeladim“ on the back. Yossi also gave Paulette a framed photograph of the new building.
Paulette said that these gifts belong to all WIZO Australia women.
We then went to the dining room and had a sumptuous lunch, very tasty and very efficiently served to over 100 guests and at the same time we celebrated the 80th birthday of Ahuzat Yeladim. There was more singing and dancing.
We then went down to the children’s dormitory where a special memorial tribute was made to Rose Fekete z’l by Diane Symonds and Rony Bognar OAM . A plaque was unveiled which reads as follows:
“In honour of Rose Fekete z’l a WIZO woman whose passion, enthusiasm, vision and active volunteering made her an inspiration and role model to WIZO Australia and the community. “Everyone should have a piece of Rose in them“
Sydney Australia 2019“
*Korsunski Youth Club*
Our final stop! This is a community Centre and learning Centre.
In the learning Centre, children who are in the 1st to the sixth grades at school come to the centre up to four times a week to do their homework because very often their parents are unavailable or are unable to help them with their homework. There is also music and dancing for the babies and children whose parents and grandparents often accompany them and watch them being entertained.
The Centre is open from Sunday – Thursday and often parents bring their children there in the mornings as well.
The children are given cooking lessons and taught how to make healthy and tasty food.
In the mornings between 9am – 12noon there is also a kindergarten.
There is a bomb shelter which has been beautifully decorated and it has games and toys in it so that the children will feel comfortable when compelled to go here.
There is also a beautiful garden.
What a day! How inspirational! What great good WIZO does!
It was a privilege to have participated!