Kupakwashe wrote this piece for the Harare Lemba Synagogue Newsletter (Zimbabwe).
My participation in Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv Jaffa left me with a lot of experience in the humanitarian field. Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv Jaffa is a Jewish pluralist organisation that works with young Jewish people from around the globe. It engages them to work to contribute their skills to poor neighbourhoods of Tel Aviv particularly South Tel Aviv.
Tikkun Olam works with a lot of organizations in Tel Aviv such as Messila, Yalla Africa, Windows, Kadima Youth Centers, Bialik School to mention but a few. I worked with Yalla Africa as my internship. Yalla Africa is a social network movement that helps young people from Africa to express themselves through media as it advocates for peace, innovation, new projects and ideas through the use of Facebook, blog, and twitter. Part of my work was to find opportunities for young African people by getting links on websites like OFA (Opportunities for Africa) to help young people who finished high school, college and universities in various fields to advance their education through funded programs. I then posted links on the Yalla Africa Facebook page. The internship helped me to develop confidence to work in an office environment and to research what to post on our networks by following the Yalla Africa weekly media strategy plan framework, for example macro agriculture, Africa is beautiful, motivational quotes, positive mindset, environmental issues like pollution, land degradation, water and land degradation and to research about solutions to these problems.
I also had two volunteering places, one of them being the potter day care for the elderly people that I attended every Monday and Wednesday mornings till the afternoons. My duties were to help the kitchen staff to help setting up tables for lunch, teaching elderly people computers, English, helping decorate the home for the holidays like Independence and Passover and I worked to help with anything general that needed to be done at the home. Elderly people really needed young people around them to tell them their life stories and in some cases they just need company of people around them. My time at the elderly people’s day care centre made me to improve my spoken Hebrew as most of them spoke Hebrew. My second voluntary place was The Kadima after school program for young children from poor neighbourhoods of South Tel Aviv. I worked with Kadima to help children from disadvantaged families to stop dropping out of schools and to become part of a normative society and not to fall into its dangerous margins. I taught English and math to young children for their after school program and I planned lessons that were taught in a fun way suitable for an after school program. I helped them with their homework for math and English. My Hebrew also improved during my time at Kadima and I gained experienced to work with young children.
I learned a lot by interning and volunteering through Tikkun Olam, by getting immersed into the Israeli society I got to know about the Israeli culture. By working with people from different backgrounds, this boosted my confidence and exchange of Ideas. I learnt about the rich history of Israel and I met very meaningful friends in my program and by working with my supervisors I developed skills like presentations, workshops, social networking, writing skills, and research. I also discovered that it is possible for young Africans to participate in Tikkun Olam in the near future.
I would like to thank the Kulanu Board for supporting me with airfare and partial living expenses the airfare, and to thank the MASA program and Tikkun Olam program for my program tuition and additional expenses. I’m very grateful for your support and I am very hopeful to see Jewish young people from isolated communities taking an initiative to participate in Tikkun Olam in the near future. Such an internship and volunteering opens doors for job markets by improving their resume and experience. It also improves spoken and written Hebrew by taking Ulpan classes and understanding the Jewish peoplehood, culture, and religion through taking twice a week seminars.