Two Negba teens, Maxim, 15, and Omer, 16, completed a rigorous 5-month course at Beersheva’s fire services and will volunteer there for the duration of high school. The two were among 50 high school students who were selected for the much sought-after internship, making the cut from among 300 applicants. The intensive practical and theoretical curriculum was grueling – only 30 actually completed the course- and they both experienced doubts along the way. But each of them worked extremely hard to complete it, and will now serve as volunteers in a program rich with opportunities for personal growth and skills development.
“If it weren’t for Negba, I wouldn’t even have applied,” said Omer. “I was told that I didn’t meet the requirements. But Simon, our mentor at Negba, pushed us to pursue it and made sure we had everything in order. Simon is the reason we completed it. He pushed us to study, and made sure we were ready.”
Omer and Maxim first met Simon, 21, through his brother, who attended Negba with them. They occasionally saw Simon in the bakery where he worked during high school to help support his family. When Simon began to volunteer at Negba’s Teen Club, taking the teens to volunteer at a senior residence home, and speaking to them about the challenges he faced as a teen, Omer and Maxim could completely relate. “Simon is a model of success for us,” said Maxim. “We were born in the same neighborhood. What he went through, so did we. He helps his family, and is completing his matriculations exams to make something of himself. He’s helping me make something of myself by pushing me to obtain the internship.”
Throughout the course the two learned all the inner workings of a fire station from equipment and vehicle maintenance, to logistics and communications. But most importantly, they learned skills which will help them for life, and they learned to work in a team. “It’s like a family at the station,” recalls Omer. “You learn the value of discipline and respect. You learn how to speak and behave properly.”
Maxim and Omer will now volunteer in all kinds of areas at the station, and even accompany fire trucks to calls. The adrenaline rush, and the appeal of helping the community, will likely drive both of them to volunteer more than the minimum 8 monthly hours required. And Maxim has another personal motivation: his grandfather served as a career firefighter himself.
“The program will undoubtedly help Maxim and Omer in their future careers,” said Simon. “They will gain social skills and leadership experience. They don’t necessarily comprehend yet the significance of the program, but it will help them for life. It will prepare them for their future army service, and even open up future work opportunities for them.”