Be part of the world: come volunteer (in Jerusalem)

What good day have you done today? When did you do something for someone without self-interest? How can we be part of the world? April 7th is since 2007 ‘Good Deeds Day’ – a global day to unite people all of over the world. To do something for the benefit of others and the planet we share together. At the initiative of Noa Shabat (the Student’s Union) we volunteered in Jerusalem, and surprisingly enough we not only could help tremendously but also became more part of this world. It makes you wonder: why don’t we do good deeds every day, or do we?

We volunteered at Beit HaTsayar – The Painter’s House. This is a day-care center and school for students at-risk. Shlomo, one of the people taking care of this place, shared with us that this means that these students have difficulty focussing, behave socially and be able to actually study well. The Painter’s House, called after the painter who owned the building and donated it when passing away (wow!), tries to give these children a chance to study, improve their skills and be able to contribute to the community. Yet, they are struggling financially and need support with keeping this important place a great learning environment. That is where we come in the picture!

One of the things Shlomo (in centre on picture above) and the school do is growing plants. Not only as a learning experience for the students – to take care and responsibility for letting things grow – but also to sell them to people and raise funds. Therefore, Shlomo asked us to get our hands dirty and start planting: with new pots, earth and a tiny plant – we made the beginning of new life to flourish and be sold to people. With a wonderful team with people from all over the world – from India to Greece, Australia and Jerusalemites – we worked a few hours very hard. The result: about 650 pots filled and put on their place in the gardens to grow. Which translates, financially, in maybe over 4000 Shekels for the school! In just a few hours. Imagine what we could do with an entire day and more people!

According to the roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius help is something natural. Therefore, he wrote, ‘let us never be to tired to give and receive help.’ Contrary to what many people expect, most of us volunteer and do good deeds everyday. In Europe for example about a third of the population has a voluntary job. All over the world people do tasks for organizations that fully operate on volunteers, and who have one purpose only: to offer help to those who need it. It goes without saying that this increases the well-being of all. Without this to be part of the reason for volunteering, it also benefits ourselves.

Besides us directly helping the school, we also got to know Shlomo and the world of these students. We learned about how there are many children struggling to learn and be part of the community. About how we all have the wish to belong and that places like this are a great blessing to achieve that for those who can not find this on their own. On top of that, we learned about each other, what drives us in life, the world at large – and sharing all this while volunteering gave a lot of joy. At the end, having dinner together, we were all very moved by how such a little thing can make such a big difference – and realized how volunteering made us more part of Jerusalem.

It is wonderful that a global Good Deeds Day encourages us to do this, but The Painter’s House reminds us: we can do a good deed everyday. If some struggle, it might require only a little bit of your time to help and make a difference. We all become more part of the world through sharing. As if society is an ever-changing canvas which is more beautiful if everyone has a place in it. Let us make sure, everyday, to paint our world together.

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