Tag Archives: Refugees

Back to Work

As you can see from my previous post, last week was a week off for me. The week was filled with leisurely travel, relaxation, and celebration…. but as we know, all good things must come to an end, and such is the tale of my week vacation.

If it’s back to work I must go, then this was a perfect way to go back:

First, a field trip to the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem with some of my refugee kids.  It might not exactly sound like work to you, but trust me…. a zoo filled with hundreds of crazy kids running around from animal to animal can drive you to the point where you’re ready to jump in with the lion and take your chances! (but we did have lots of fun too!)

Second, an afternoon in the park playing basketball.  I was finally able to hook up with one of our Professional Basketball Players in the Israeli league (we’ve been trying to put something together for a while now), where he could come down and play with the kids.  It was a huge success, and the kids absolutely LOVED him! The weather is finally nice enough again where we can resume our basketball outreach, and I honestly forgot how much I really do enjoy spending this time with the kids.

Overall, not too shabby for my first two days back after holiday! 

I’ve posted all the pictures from the Zoo field trip and our Afternoon of Basketball on our Shine Facebook Page…go check them out! 🙂

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Who would’ve thunk it?!?

Since I moved down to the “Central Bus Station” area, everyone always asks me if I feel safe there…. to which I usually reply, “I haven’t had any problems.” I’ve been told to be careful because of all the “Africans” living there and all the violence they cause. But as I said before, “I haven’t had any problems……..

UNTIL TODAY

…… and it wasn’t caused by the refugees.

As I got off the bus this morning, I was suddenly caught in an unexpected downpour.  I had no umbrella or protection, so I stood under a building to attempt to wait it out.  It didn’t quite work as planned.

About 5 minutes into waiting, one of the drugged-out prostitues (who was walking down the middle of the street, oblivious to the rain) approached me in the nook of my shelter.  She started rambling on about this and that and nothing she said made any sense.  She did manage to ask me why I was standing there and I told her because of the rain. She didn’t quite get it.

What happened next was pretty crazy, but considering her state of mind, probably not so much in her world.  She grabbed my arm like she wanted me to go with her.  I told her no, that I was staying there and she got furious. She started screaming at me (in jibberish) which was getting on my nerves, so I decided to just brave the rain and make a run for it.

When I went to leave she grabbed my hair and yanked me back. (Literally I flew back, and luckily I didn’t fall).  I  turned around and told her to stop. At that very moment a guy who was across the street ran over and pulled her away from me.  He told me to just go…. so I did.

I heard her start to yell at him, but he was much bigger than both of us, so I’m pretty sure it didn’t fase him at all.

As I ran the rest of the way home, I thought to myself, “Everyone is always worried that I’ll be attacked by some drunk guy down here, yet it ends up being a high prostitute.” Who would’ve thunk it?!?

Well, certainly not me! (though after volunteering at the shelter, I should have imagined it: those girls are intensely violent.)

I’ll admit that I was a bit shaken up when I finally got home, and I just kept thinking, “what if that guy hadn’t come? what would I have had to do if she didn’t leave me alone?”

Thankfully, I didn’t have to find out, and I really hope that I don’t either. What a morning!


A Blessing to Bless Others

I seriously can’t believe its already November 1st! NOVEMBER! Not only where did this past month go, but where did the YEAR go?!?  But, the fact remains that yes… it’s already holiday season.

Holiday season in Israel isn’t exactly like Holiday season in the rest of the world….

…but, thanks to Help-Portrait, its starting to feel a little like holiday season to me.  Last year was the first year for Help-Portrait Tel Aviv, and it turned out to be such a blessing.  This year, I’m expecting nothing less.

IN FACT, I’m expecting so much more!  Last night I had a meeting with Professional Fashion Photographer, David Kutcher, who will be taking all our portraits this year.  To say that I’m excited about this, is an understatement… I’m THRILLED!

Not only is he a FANTASTIC photographer, but he’s going to bring an entire studio with him to set up in my place.

A BLESSING BEYOND A BLESSING!

And after all… the purpose of being blessed is to in turn to bless others, and I KNOW that his work will do just that!

Can’t Wait!


Monday Nights are for Basketball

I am getting ready to branch out and start something new.  Next Monday will be the first day of an Outreach I’m putting together for all the refugee kids in the South Tel Aviv area…. Monday Night Basketball.

There is a huge park in our area where ALL the refugees hang out, and it also has basketball courts. I have a couple of friends helping me out, and I’m pretty excited to see how it all unfolds.  At the same time, I’m a little nervous too.

I have no idea how the turnout will be or how the kids will respond.  I’m hoping that we will have lots of kids show up, but there’s just no telling if that will happen.

So here’s my request: Could you all just say a little prayer for this new adventure?

* An awesome turnout.

* Safety.

* Communication. I’m the only one who speaks Hebrew out of the group, so it might be a bit challenging for me at times.

* Open Doors. I’m really hoping that this outreach will open doors for future endeavors.

* Fun. Overall, I just want to bring some fun and enjoyment into these little lives.


A True Meaning of Hospitality

Yesterday I went to the house of one of the refugee girls, who I am working with, to speak to her parents.  Her dad is Ethiopian and her mom is Eritrean.  I originally went to make plans as to what time I will pick up Rivkah each morning, but I ended up staying for much longer…

…They live in a TINY 2 room apartment, all 6 of them.  There are 4 children, all under the age of 10.  Rivkah is the 2nd oldest at 7. She has an older brother, 10 yrs old, a younger one, 4 yr. old and a 6 month old baby sister.  And they all live in that 2 room apartment.

One room consists of 2 beds and a couch with a couple plastic chairs while the other has 2 more beds, leading into the kitchen (which is technically the same room).  There is a ridiculously small bathroom, which they all must share. There is no art on the walls, no decorations brightening the place, and certainly no “extras” as we all tend to have in our lives. They are all ‘refugee status’, but haven’t been given work visas yet.  This is the main concern of her dad, as he cannot provide for his family.  Looking around, my heart is breaking, but I must remain positive for them all.  They are beyond poor, not even having diapers for the baby.

YET, the first thing Rivkah’s mom did when I entered her place was offer me coffee.  She barely has enough food in the house to feed her 4 children, but she is concerned about my well-being and me feeling welcomed.  At this point I was almost in tears, thinking about this gesture of hospitality.

As I left their humble abode, I will admit I felt ashamed, angry, and sad. Ashamed for all the times I complained about where I live, what I don’t have, and how difficult life can be. Angry at how society perceives the African Refugees in Israel and how they are treated on a daily basis. And Sad because of the situation, not only that they were in, but for the other 20,000+ families who were in the same boat.

What I walked away with yesterday was this: It doesn’t matter how much you have or don’t have.  It doesn’t matter how much money is in your pocket or in your bank account.  It’s not about what car you drive or the size of your house.

It’s all about how you treat others.  Years from now the details of their apartment will probably be forgotten, but I will never forget how I was treated and welcomed by them.

A lesson I need to constantly remind myself of….


Calling All Music Lovers!

Do you love music???

Do you love kids???

Are you looking for a simple, wonderful way to help a refugee child this summer in a way which will bring music into her life??

Head on over HERE to the Shine Website to find out how YOU can help in the most practical way.

This summer sounds of music will be filling South Tel Aviv!!


Finding a Needle in a Haystack

I have to be completely honest…. I’m frustrated!

I’ve been spending time looking at places for the youth center, but to be quite honest its been torture.  I haven’t found one single place that I would even consider, yet alone want to live in as well.  Today I even went inside a place with no floors… NO FLOORS!  There were just piles of dirt all around, and I’m talking about the 3rd floor no less.

After seeing this place, and being horrified by the thought of living there, it struck me…. There are thousands of people living there right now. Most of them are refugees and foreign workers, who can’t afford NOT to live in places without floors.  They do not have the luxury of saying ‘NO’ when they are given a place like that.  And it humbled me.

This is why I must find a suitable place for the center.  I’m determined to make this place a beautiful respite for these kids…. a place to get away from what they experience day to day…. a place they can feel comfortable and at home in.

And though its frustrating and painful, looking and dump after dump, I have to keep on looking.  I have to believe that somewhere out there there IS a Needle in a Haystack!  I just need the endurance to find it.


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