How can I pick one thing? Two words: ALEH Negev.
When I return from Israel, I’m always asked, “So what was the highlight of your trip?” Oh, come on! How can I pick one thing? Well I can finally answer that question in two words. ALEH Negev.
So what happened on our visit to make it such a highlight?
- Mandy gave us an art book.
- Lianne was walking and climbing on her own.
- Aviva continues to work with blind and neurologically impaired residents.
- Stav has joined the staff, and gave us a fabulous tour.
Of course there is more, far more than I can describe in one short article. I’d rather focus on Mandy and Lianne this time, and also write a few words on the staff of ALEH Negev.
First, Mandy. He is a young man, 21 years old, and confined to a wheelchair with very limited use of one of his hands. With that hand, and with other sophisticated technologies that track his eye movement, he is able to communicate, albeit slowly. With the help of one of the staffers, he welcomed our group (there is a picture of him on my blog and on the CBJ Facebook site). We presented him with a book of art and greetings that our preschool kids put together. He then gave us a beautiful book of art that is on display in our lobby.
We left the classroom where Mandy and some other severely handicapped young people were working, and toured the rest of the facility at ALEH Negev. We saw the hydrotherapy pool, the garden, the horses, and the skilled-nursing wing.
One of the amazing things about ALEH Negev is that they run a preschool for kids from the surrounding area who are what we would call neurotypical. At ALEH Negev, they have classes both with and without the residents, and we got to see one of their classes.
Lianne is a four-year-old girl who was born at 24 weeks. That she survived is miraculous in itself. When I visited last June, she was incredibly tiny for a three-year-old, but incredibly active, running around with the help of a wheeled walker. As we approached a play structure, Lianne went zooming by me without any aids, and up the ladder. I recognized her, and they told me that she had just started walking on her own a month ago.
At ALEH Negev, the dedication of the staff to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of society is beyond miracle. Whether it’s helping a preemie to learn to walk and function on her own, or helping a young adult with very limited function to communicate, the staff of ALEH Negev is ever-present with kindness and patience.
And so once again, I am urging you to see this for yourselves. I know that it’s 8,000 miles away, but please go visit ALEH Negev. You’ll be glad you did.