Hello and shalom!
My name is Clara, I am 22 years old and since September 2020 of this year a volunteer of Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste in Israel. Since October I have been working in a women's shelter run by "Ischa LeIscha" (Women to Women) in Jerusalem, where I take care of the youngest children from 0 to 3 years old.
Briefly about the project: "Ischa LeIscha" is a non-profit organization that supports women affected by domestic violence. Founded in 1982, the women's shelter where I work is a sub-program of the organization. Here, women in an emergency situation can find shelter for several weeks to months, receive childcare and psychological and legal counseling, and plan their next steps in a protected setting. In addition, after the time in the women's shelter, there is the possibility of living independently in apartments of the organization within the framework of "halfway housing", while continuing to be accompanied by social workers.
The tasks in the "children's house" include all areas that arise in life with a small child: Feeding, diapering, playing, rocking to sleep and much more. Whenever possible, we - the group supervisor, the other volunteers and I - try to go outside with the children and either walk around the block with the strollers or go to a nearby playground to get some fresh air. For a few days now, I've also been working with the older children individually in rotation so that I can engage with them more intensively and, according to the plan, provide them with more targeted support. For example, the youngest child in our group has learned to crawl over the last few weeks and is now exploring the environment more and more independently, while the older children are already able to walk and come rushing towards me more often when they want to play, cuddle or read a book.
In the meantime, I have become well acquainted with the processes and the individual activities in the project. Nevertheless, the work is always a challenge and I am glad to have loving and professional contact persons. My boss and my colleagues in the project are very understanding and with them I can also discuss difficult situations. They have a lot of experience and are a great help for me to better understand the complex situation of the resident women and children. A special challenge for us is of course the current pandemic situation, which brings additional insecurity for the women in the house and adds to their already difficult situation. The pandemic also leads to an increase in domestic violence outside the house, especially against women, and thus underscores the further need for emergency shelters.
I hope that the families who come to us find a way out of violence and into a more independent life after their time in the women's shelter. Our work, I believe, can have a small but positive impact on that process and I am thankful to be a part of it.
Clara Höhl, 22, comes from Marburg in the state of Hesse. She is an occupational therapist and after her year in Jerusalem plans to return to Marburg to work there. She also intends to continue her education at a university.