My name is Derso Belateh. I am studying Mechanical Engineering and am a student in ESRA's Students Build a Community Project in Hefzibah, Netanya. I mentor four children and would like to tell you a little about myself and what I do in the project.
I grew up in Tirat HaCarmel (near Haifa) with my mother and younger brother. Just over a year ago I applied to study for a diploma in Mechanical Engineering at ORT Singalofsky in Tel Aviv. I was accepted into a program of Israel Aircraft Industries who have started a new scholarship project for Mechanical Engineering students who studied Mechatronics at school. This is the first year of this project and the idea is that when the students qualify, they will be accepted into IAI on a full time basis.
I was looking for a place to stay not too far from the College. As it goes in the student community, I heard from a friend of a friend about the ESRA project of Students Build a Community in Netanya and how it helps students with apartments in exchange for mentoring children from the area. I immediately felt that this was just what I was looking for and that I would love to become part of this community.
I am now living in Hefzibah and mentoring four kids and am enjoying every moment. Each month, two students out of the ten, take turns to organize and run a Friday afternoon program for the community kids. In April it was the turn of myself and my partner in the apartment. The theme we chose was "I Care" with emphasis on me and my friends, bonding, giving, accepting, respecting others. The activity concentrated mainly on showing the kids that we care about our surroundings, so let's do something good for it. Simply, we wanted to encourage the kids to be aware of their surroundings and to take care of both the people and the place we live in and to respect the ground we walk on.
We opened the activity by sending the kids in groups with their students to hang balloons on each of the buildings and on some cars in the neighborhood with notes saying "Have a good day" and "Shabbat Shalom." We then organized a stand offering cold lemonade and sweets to passing neighbors with notes saying: "Have a wonderful Shabbat." There were other activities including games, bowling (using recycled plastic bottles), and more.
At the end of the day, we distributed 70th birthday Israeli flags to the kids. Both the students and the kids enjoyed every minute and the day was a great success.
It's wonderful to have an organization that gives so much extra enrichment to the students, youth and kids from all backgrounds.
In ESRA there is such a combination of different ways to become involved in the small community where we live and in the larger community around us. Being fairly new in the project, I haven't yet managed to join any of the trips outside the neighborhood, but from what I have heard from present and past students I understand that ESRA invests much thought in the trips and activities so as to give the most in terms of culture, volunteering and building the community.
From the short time I have been here and seen ESRA at work, it is possible to understand that we young students are supported, encouraged and shown ways to not only receive help, but to give help to others and to be a part of the "Derech Eretz" of Israeli society as a whole.
I feel privileged that I managed to find my way to become part of this amazing community!