Earlier this summer YES students from the Arab Communities of Israel spent three days volunteering at an Eritrean and Sudanese refugee daycare center. The project was done in collaboration with two other youth groups, Debate for Peace club and the NYU Alumni club. Israel has a large Sudanese and Eritrean refugee population as Sudanese and Eritreans are fleeing systemic rights of human violation in their own countries. Many of the refugees are young individuals and upon arriving in Israel end up in daycare centers around the country.
To show these young Eritreans and Sudanese some compassion in such difficult times the YES alumni visited the daycare to bring smiles to the young children’s faces. The YES alumni brought the children to a nearby park and spent the day playing with them. The alumni made sure to make the children feel happy and comfortable – learning their names, listening as they explained their living situation, and making them smile by taking a lot of photos and letting them take photos themselves.
When the children arrived at the park the students were ecstatic. Refugee daycare centers are often unsupervised, overpopulated, understaffed, and overall are in poor condition, so the daycare center staff and the children appreciated the additional support and outing organized by the YES alumni. It was definitely a breath of fresh air for the children!
The Eritrean and Sudanese children ran around the park and spent a lot of time on the swings. They also played football and took lots of photos with the YES alumni. The entire group enjoyed a picnic in a park. Before they knew it, the day was over and the YES alumni brought the young children back to the refugee shelter.
One of the alumni involved in the event, Mahmoud Sammar (YES 2015-2016, Israel Arab Communities, hosted by PAX in Niagara Falls, NY) reflected on the project. He said, “It was an amazing day, seeing the kids this happy brings joy to our hearts, all we did was walk them over to a park. We were one of the reasons why the kids had fun, why they laughed, played and were happy for that day with such little deed as spending time with them.”