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The Joy of Employment

Opportunities for the disabled in Akim

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Posted on: 
2 Aug 2012 (All day)
The Joy of Employment

Israel gives most disabled the freedom to decide what they would like to do with their lives and their time.  Options vary, depending on their disability; though most that are able gladly choose to work.  Working gives them a chance to get out of the house, spend time with others outside their family, and most importantly, the opportunity to be creative and productive.

Akim is one place where the disabled can enjoy social interaction and work projects that benefit them and the community.  When our ICEJ AID team visited the center, they were greeted with smiles and cheerful "hellos" immediately upon entering the building.

In one room, over a dozen of young people assembled little packages with candy.  In another sector they put together little boxes of tool parts.  The handicapped workers enjoy having a community of their own, though working space is sparse with not enough room for everyone to have a separate table.

Ceramic OvenOut in the courtyard another group was making items out of clay.  A huge gift from ICEJ Aid in the form of a brand new, high quality ceramics oven stands to one side.  Thanks to this addition, the handicapped are making beautiful ceramic items meant for sale, providing essential support for the program. 

Yaffa Ashkenzai, director of employment and public relations coordinator, cooperates with local factories and distribution centers to draw people’s attention to this special project. “I don’t want these special people to spend their whole lives sitting at home,” said Yaffa, looking at the group cheerfully working with clay. “If not for this, they would never go out or do anything.  They are often simply overlooked their whole lives.”

Right now her biggest concern is finding a ceramics instructor, who would be willing to teach and oversee the pottery program.  It’s a challenge to find a skilled instructor who is willing to do the job for the modest pay that is offered.

As Oshrat lifted the mold in her hands to show us her handiwork, she confided with a proud and joyful twinkle in her eye, “I’m so very happy to do this work.”   The staff coordinator explained later that Oshrat tends to be very stressed and nervous.  Working with ceramics helps her relax.

The hustle and bustle of people busily engaged in their work mixed with the buzz of conversation and even some giggling from one table, gave the overall impression of contentment. Though the location isn’t ideal, the center is doing what it can in the limited space available. The benefit of working with clay helps the disabled develop their motor skills and each is placed in a job they enjoy and have the ability to do well.

“We are preparing to move to a bigger location,” Aviva, the general manager, shared with us. “There’s too many of us now, with more on a waiting list.” The current location will continue to serve as a center for the physically handicapped.  The mentally handicapped will move to the new location, which is more spacious with equipment made specifically with their needs in mind.

 

 

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