Arous ElBahar is a center that works to empower women—not just the program participants, but also our volunteers. The time I spent at Arous ElBahar made me feel energetic, creative, and loved. I expected to arrive at the organization and to find new and creative ways to teach English. Even with my limited Hebrew and my even more limited Arabic, there was always a lot of laughter and fun in our classes. The women helped each other to understand me when I tried pantomiming to explain what I was trying to say or when we sang together in English to celebrate Mother’s Day.
I have kept in contact with the women I worked with. What started as English classes on Thursday nights developed quickly into visiting the women in their homes, family picnics in the park, and occasionally English lessons with their children. One time we were able to get everyone, all the women and their children, to fit in one tiny apartment and eat dinner together.
Arous ElBahar will always have a place in my heart. My time there opened so many doors for me—it was an opportunity for the women and for me to learn how to communicate in new languages, and so much more.
I have taught two English courses at Arous Elbahar and hope to continue teaching here when I return to Israel. It has been an honor to contribute to an organization that effects such palpable social change. Arous Elbahar is so dynamic because they seem to have found a workable “sweet spot,” a balance between idealism and pragmatism. When I walk through the front door I am always greeted by passionate women working assiduously toward realizing goals that some would call lofty but that they have proven realistic and achievable. Both the staff and the students are incredibly warm and compassionate women. My students have challenged and inspired me as a teacher. And they have taught me so much in return. I miss them every day and could not ask for anything more.
Excerpt from a post in Leilani’s blog:
A little while after I arrived in Israel I began my work volunteering at an NGO dedicated to empowering the women of Tel Aviv-Yafo. It is run by both Jewish and Arab women, and strives to give underprivileged women of Yafo a place where they can have a support system, feel safe, come to learn, and be part of a close community. Women go there for any number of the services offered including mentoring, entrepreneurial guidance, job placement, support groups, computer classes, Arabic classes, and now English classes. In addition to offering a support system and classes, the center teamed up with an Israeli designer and created a unique line of plush dolls called “Jaffa Dolls.” A group of women who attend the center make the dolls and when they are sold the women receive a portion of the profit. The dolls have become tremendously successful and at the launch that was held at the end of last year they sold out of their entire stock. As a side project in addition to my teaching efforts, I have begun helping to find stores that will sell the dolls Internationally and am working to create a network for sales in the US.
“I decided to study law in order to fight the inherent inequality in my society. Navigating life through a sea of discriminative policies is an everyday battle, against all odds. Volunteering in the programme allows me to join forces with Arous Elbahar in order to challenge this troubling reality – the injustice that women in Yaffa are facing on a daily basis. It is encouraging to witness their motivation to acquire new legal tools in order to take action and fight for their rights. The optimism, strength and creativity of these women is a source for endless inspiration.”
We are always happy to welcome volunteers who support our programs. Please note the type of work that interests you and we will contact you as soon as possible.
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