At first, the road seemed unclear.
I knew that JACC deals with immense challenges, and that flexibility is a prerequisite for the organization's success.
I got a family's phone number so I could set a first meeting. A few days passed and there was no answer. A week later I tried calling again, and the father of the family answered, exited to hear my voice, but apologizing and informing me that the family was leaving the country soon.
I realized that the road I was taking was not a paved one, and that I would have to create my own path.
A short time after, Adi, who was also surprised to hear the news, gave me the number of a different family. After talking to her about the complexity of their specific condition, I felt that I was ready to call the mother.
When got home, I dialed the number and was waiting excitedly through the rings until the mother of the family finally answered. I was eager to begin our journey.
The same week, on a Thursday, I came to the family's house with a piece of paper, a pen and an open mind. I didn’t know what to expect. Catching my breath from walking up the stairs, I knocked on the door. Three little children with big smiles answered the door.
"What's your name? Where are you from? Are you Cristian? Do you have any brothers or sisters? Father? Mother? What do you like to eat?"
An abundance of questions, and I tried to catch and answer all of them. The mother came to me with her baby and greeted me in the Eritrean style of three kisses.
I looked around and took in the big family and small but welcoming house. I sat down on the sofa surrounded by all the children, inhaling the scent of ingara (which I love so much), and then delving into a deep conversation with the mother about the family's story.
In the middle of the conversation an adorable little girl walked in, and we nodded to each other to say hello, and ever since, I've been her tutor.
My road with that incredible girl was filled with ups and downs, but hope was always there. The mother of the family and I talked a lot about the content of our meetings, what would be the best way to approach her, until we finally figured it out. I am grateful for this partnership, and especially with her.
While the focus of this project was the tutoring program, I felt that I created and maintained good relationships with all the members of this incredible family.
I had a chance to learn first hand about the complexities and hardships they faced, and also about the hope, love and culture that one cannot just fall in love with.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have experienced so much over the course of this over the course of this project, and for the times when we laughed and when we learned, and when we when we talked about emotions and trauma. I fell in love with the evenings of eating dinner with the whole family, getting a chance to know their family jokes, being part of the pleasant, and sometime not so pleasant atmosphere in the home.
Simply put, I am happy that I had a chance to learn, not from a far, and not from stories. I am grateful for that.
This month, JACC is raising money so that volunteer tutors can continue to provide support for more children. 65% of the asylum-seeking community’s children in Jerusalem do not receive services from JACC because of limited resources. Help us expand today. Please donate and spread the word via email and Facebook.