Aryeh and Tehilla, both Lev Echad volunteers, told us this story:
"Between sirens, we walked around the streets of Kiryat Malachi with instruments on our way to the next neighborhood shelter. Suddenly a woman who was probably about 65 years old called us from her balcony – a classic 'Moroccan grandmother' with her daughters and grandchildren. She asked that we make music and called all the neighbors. So we immediately started playing, and we find ourselves in a crazy 'hafla' and neighbors start following the noise and joining the party.
" The woman who initiated everything is drying the tears from her eyes, covering her face and saying 'you don't understand what this means to me, you're a miracle that just landed in my life…' Somebody brings a huge speaker and two microphones, and it becomes a karaoke party, and the woman brings out food and drinks.
"After about an hour and a half of heartwarming brotherhood we move on to the next stop…"
Yishai and Lior, high school students on vacation, thought they would spend time in the south talking with residents and calming them. Instead, from the moment they arrived at the volunteer center in Ashdod they were captivated by the lively energies and could not slow down for a minute.
"When we reached the center for elderly with special needs, we brought out drums, darbukas and musical instruments and just kept singing and dancing," Lior said, "even those who couldn't respond could feel the joy."
Yishai played ball with a six-year-old boy for hours. At every corner the boy stopped and pointed, "there's a shelter here! This is where you'll take me if there's a siren!"
Residents of the south are asking for a breath of fresh air, and Lior and Yishai? Just looking to catch their breath.
Adi, who is managing the volunteer center in Kiryat Malachi, says that one of their missions is to have activities that are one-on-one with children who cannot leave their shelters due to various limitations such as physical disabilities, autism, or other special needs. In such cases, we say that if the day camp won't come to you in your shelter, Lev Echad will.
Two volunteers came to the home of a single mother who has been home for two weeks with her three children, who have been suffering from anxiety. In addition, their grandmother had moved in at the beginning of the war while trying to avoid the rockets in her hometown of Sderot. For two weeks the mother and grandmother did not leave the house, even to go to the supermarket, and had not even applied make-up. The volunteers came and played with the children, and understood from the mother that one of the girls had not celebrated her birthday because no one had left the house. After much persuasion, the children agreed to leave the house and go to the shelter. After the fun activity in the shelter the children had had such a good time that they didn't want to go home. Then, the volunteers did something that the mother and grandmother will remember forever – they went to the supermarket, bought a cake, balloons, a birthday crown and a present, and celebrated the girl's birthday along with the other children in the neighborhood. For the first time in weeks, the mother and grandmother got dressed-up and made-up, and went over to the neighborhood shelter. The mother agreed to come thanks to the devoted volunteers who had done so much good for the family, and needless to say, the birthday girl was thrilled.
Avishai Green, volunteering in Be'er Sheva, recalls:
"We went to the home of a foster family with children ages 4, 8 and 9. 'We haven't left the house since the beginning of the operation because it's hard to handle everyone when the sirens come on,' the mother told us. I went to play ball with the nine-year-old outside. It's really difficult to see a child who is stuck at home just because there isn't an adult around to tell him that everything is going to be fine, in the event of a siren. While we were playing, one of the other volunteers was busy drawing pictures and playing games with the smaller children."