My name is Rebecca Stern and I recently participated in Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, a volunteer program which helps underprivileged populations in South Tel Aviv and Jaffa. Under the auspices of this program, I volunteered in four community organisations, the African Refugee Development Centre, Mesila Aid and Information Centre, Shapira Community Centre and Holland Centre. I had very meaningful placements in each of these four organisations.
I’ll expand on one of the organisations I volunteered at: The African Refugee Development Centre. The ARDC provides humanitarian aid, psychosocial assistance and education for refugees and asylum-seekers and community development programs.
I was a teacher and tutor at the ARDC, helping a class of refugees prepare for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam. I feel very privileged to have helped several refugees expand their educational opportunities, some of whom are now studying in the Interdisciplinary College in Hertziliya.
Working at ARDC, I met many outstanding individuals who also happen to be asylum seekers. Once upon a time in their home country, they may have been lawyers, doctors or engineers, mothers, fathers, brothers or sisters.
Upon arriving home to Australia, I decided I would try to do my bit to ease the plight of refugees and am now volunteering in the Australasian Union of Immigration Volunteers (ALIV). As a volunteer for ALIV, I am in a buddies program which takes teenagers out on excursions. Whilst I certainly don’t solve their problems, I do try to bring some joy to their lives.
On Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, I learned to show patience and bring creativity to each of my placements. I saw resilience and hope within each individual I engaged with – and let me tell you, I saw a lot of laughter, strength and hope for the future.