03/30/2016 - USA Volunteer Felix Lufkin Returns for Second Stint at Negba to Lead Environmental Activities
Negba is delighted when friends from around the world visit and volunteer their time and expertise. When they come back again and build their connection with Negba’s children, it is particularly meaningful. Felix Lufkin is one of these special friends of Negba. Last winter he led a week of nature education activities at Negba’s after-school Homes. And he came back again this winter for a second tour of duty.
“I came back because I was very touched by Negba’s kids, and I wanted to develop deeper relationships with them,” said Felix. “Also, because last year was a Shemitta year (7th year in the biblical cycle in which the land is traditionally not worked), we couldn’t plant. I wanted to do more with them.”
And more he did. This time Felix spent two weeks with Negba’s children engaged in tree planting, herb gardening, and- the highlight of his visit- constructing a Cob cooking oven made from clay, which Negba's kids will use for baking bread and other foods. “This time we were able to accomplish more things, and I was able to bond with the kids beyond the environmental activities, such as helping them with their homework. I was able to settle into their routine as opposed to imposing my nature agenda on them.”
After a second stint with many of the same kids he knew from last year, Felix’s connected more deeply with the children, gaining more insight into the home life of a Beersheva kid, who are not that different from their peers elsewhere. “I’ve had similar experiences with urban kids in the USA. First they are hesitant to engage and get their hands dirty and leave their comfort zones, but afterwards they are really proud of what they’ve done. Such as the oven we built, which will be a source of pride for the kids down the road when they bake things in it and benefit from it.”
For a second time, Negba’s kids were lucky to benefit from Felix. “It was fun for them to connect with a cultural outsider, and I think they were moved that a person of the world sought them out and came here to be with them, “said Albert Cohen, a Negba social worker. “Felix increased their comfort with the wilderness and with the land and nature.”
And for Felix, it is indeed a mutual relationship. “It was a chance for me to connect with land in another time zone, and being the land of Israel, it’s also my way to connect to Judaism.”
Negba is so grateful to Felix and hopes to see him again next winter!