Negba is privileged to count 28 national service volunteers among its staff ranks in Beersheva and Jerusalem. Known fondly as “Bnot Sherut,” these energetic young women are a valuable resource in Israel’s workforce, committing to serve at non-profits across Israel prior to their university studies. At Negba, two Bnot Sherut, Avia Haba and Tamar Barak, both 19, decided to volunteer for a second year.
“I could have begun my academic studies this year, or volunteered for another year at a different organization,” said Tamar. “But I decided to return to Negba because I wanted to complete the process. Now I fully understand my role here, and I can make a deeper influence from the first day.”
Tamar’s colleague Avia, with whom she works at a Negba Beersheva After-School Home leading social, academic and cultural enrichment for 30 children in grades 4-6, underscored the impact their decision made on the kids. “At Negba we are in contact with the same children for 5 hours a day for an entire year. It took time to earn their trust, but now we have close relationships with each kid,” Avia reflected. “We are influential figures to them now. By returning for a second year we provide additional stability in their lives, and we can help them even more.”
That trust and stability is possibly the most important element of Avia’s and Tamar’s work. Both women were critical figures in the revelation of a number of serious personal matters as a result of their closeness with the children. Negba’s professionals were then able to sensitively help the children and provide the appropriate care.
But it is evident that Tamar and Avia both receive as much as they give in their work at Negba. “I love to work here because we are given much freedom to try new things,” said Tamar. “I learned so much about how to run a group and work in front of a crowd. And If we want to experiment in a new area, or run a program about a specific subject, the staff here is very open to our ideas.”
Avia concurred. “What makes it special at Negba is that the staff wants us to learn as individuals, and gain professional skills too. I can experience in different areas and develop myself, and try out new skills. It is definitely helping me build myself for the future.”