Volunteering at ADI was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far. I cherished every single moment, from the first day to the last.
I had previously worked with teenagers and adults with special needs in Montreal, and I thought that I would just be able to apply the skills and techniques I had learned there to this new opportunity with ADI. But on my very first day at ADI, I realized that working with children with severe complex disabilities is very different and that I had a lot to learn.
To be honest, my first day was really rough. It broke my heart to see young children living with such severe disabilities. I also felt that I had to prove to the staff and the kids that they could trust me. At first, my role was simple: I was asked to play with the children and keep them company. But I felt that I could do more to help, and I asked the staff to teach me how to feed the children, put them into their wheelchairs, and how to handle emergency situations. This learning process was a profound turning point for me.
From the very beginning, my main goal was building a strong bond with the kids, and it took some time to achieve this, but my hard work and patience definitely paid off. By the end of my internship, I had built amazing personal connections with every child in my care and multiple staff members. Our bonds were palpable, and the kids would welcome me with big smiles and laughter when I came to work each morning. It made me feel so fulfilled knowing that I had gained their trust.
I love every single child that I had the privilege of working with at ADI, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to really get to know them, to understand the different qualities that make them so unique and amazing. Moreover, my time here taught me how to look at things from a different and more positive perspective. It’s a lesson that I have already applied to so many other areas of my life.
Even though I only volunteered for a short period of time, it made a huge impact on me, and I am so glad that I chose to join ADI’s internship program. This experience changed me for the better, and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Though I have to return to Canada for now, I can’t wait to come back to ADI in the summer and see how the kids have grown. They are a part of me forever.
Leor Antebi, 20, volunteered at ADI’s residential and rehabilitative center in Jerusalem during Winter 2020. A native of Montreal, Canada, Leor graduated from Herzliah High School in Montreal and completed her pre-university training at Dawson College in Westmount. She plans on joining the IDF before enrolling in an Israeli university.