Just recently, Yuval Chamu concluded her Israel Defense Forces service and, along with it, her volunteer work at the #ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village. Yuval had begun her weekly volunteer service at the Village about a year ago in a joint project of the Hatzerim Israeli Air Force Base and ALEH Negev. Every Tuesday morning, women soldiers would arrive from Hatzerim to volunteer on a one-to-one basis with the female residents. Yuval was assigned to Sivan.
“At the beginning, I found it quite difficult,” Yuval tells us. “To tell you the truth, the resident who deterred me most was Sivan! I found her behavior strange, even radical. She yelled constantly and couldn’t keep still for a minute. In the end I decided to rise to the challenge; I wanted to enter her inner world, to truly understand her. Eventually I came to the realization that her extreme behavior was how she expressed her feelings, particularly when she was having a bad day. Today Sivan and I are the best of friends.”
Understanding how crucial the consistent visits were for Sivan and her roommates, Yuval was sure to arrive every single Tuesday morning. “It’s very hard for me to say good-bye,” Yuval says. “I feel I’ve changed for the better as a result of all of this. Volunteering at the Village has matured me and made me a more sensitive, caring person. Once while I was working as a waitress at a restaurant in the city, a large group of women with intellectual disabilities came for dinner. The other waiters and waitresses were hesitant, even fearful, but not me – I immediately approached their table. In fact, I did much more than that – I spoke to them, joked with them, explained the menu and helped them choose what they were having for dinner. I actually enjoyed it! Seeing with what ease I handled the situation, the entire restaurant staff was in a state of shock.”
Source: Humans of JNF