‘I really loved this experience’ – Volunteering at Carmiel Children’s Village
Meet Ethan Novak. He’s 17 and from London, and was looking for something meaningful to do in Israel this summer. Having taken part in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, he knows how to roll up his sleeves and was keen to apply his passion for social action wherever he could.
UJIA was able to place him for a week at Carmiel Children’s Village, a community for children unable to live with their families, where we are funding new living accommodation and educational programming. Ethan had only been to Israel once before on a family visit, so he was very excited to experience another side of the country, one that is more about community.
Ethan lived in one of the 17 family units at the village and quickly became part of the family. The house mum and dad, Hila and Richie, instantly welcomed him into their home, a home where they live with and care for nine children.
“Although there is so much joy at the village, it’s clear that under the surface, these kids have experienced a lot of pain. It’s great to be a part of this incredible place and make connections with so many incredible children.”
Ethan was able to accompany the kids on a special week of summer camp, including a beach barbeque at the Kinneret, kayaking in the Jordan river, a trampoline park in Haifa, and some relaxing pool time. He used his sports skills in football to bond with the kids, especially those who he couldn’t easily communicate with because of the language barrier (he has limited Hebrew and the kids had limited English). He invested a lot of his time in getting to know some of the older children, and hearing about their personal stories:
“I really bonded with one of the boys in my Family Unit who was 14. He had a very tough upbringing and his single mum could not take care of him. Because he could speak English so well we were able to instantly connect. I think I was in a unique position to help and comfort him. I felt more like a big brother and mentor, rather than an adult telling him what to do.
“I really loved this experience and would highly recommend it for others who want to make a difference. I think I gained so much by meeting so many incredible people and it was great to travel and enjoy the beautiful Galilee region.”