I am not quite the newest member of the World Jewish Relief team (Ewan, our storyteller takes that prize) but I’ve only been in post for a couple of months and have been hugely inspired by what we do.
I wanted to take the chance to see first-hand some of the work we support, to get to know the partners that make it happen and most importantly to meet the participants of our projects and understand more the transformative work we’re engaged with. Visiting Georgia with our Head of Impact and Livelihoods, Ekaterina, was an ideal opportunity to do all of that, and to sample Khinkali (Georgian dumplings).
World Jewish Relief has embarked on the ambitious challenge to repair the home of every Jewish person in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and over the five day trip I was honoured to be invited into the homes of a number of project participants of our Home Repairs programme. Individuals who were thrilled to be spending their first winter with adequate heating, and without the need for the first time to keep their outdoor clothes on once they got home.
Alex with the daughter of Loubla who is bedbound and also supported through our Home Care project,
Alex with Natalya and her newly installed windows
Alex with Nelly who has received essential support for more than 17 years from our local partner Hesed Tbilisi who deliver a wide range of activities as part of our Older People’s Programme.
Bathroom of a home awaiting repairs.
One highlight of the trip was spending time with our partner Association Anika. Here I was witness to the life changing opportunities our Livelihood Development Programmes offer to people with disabilities. World Jewish Relief support Association Anika to offer a wide range of activities that support the development and increased independence of individuals with complex disabilities. I was welcomed with a delicious chicken salad chosen, shopped for and prepared by the project participants themselves as part of the weekly programme of activities.
I also had the privilege to meet Giorgy, Givi and Tia, three individuals who have participated in our Employment Programmes and are now in paid, sustainable employment. World Jewish Relief supports Association Anika to deliver a comprehensive training programme for people with disabilities that involves group work, employment preparation and mock interviews and has supported dozens of individuals in the last 12 months alone. The Anika team spend a lot of time and energy recruiting and orientating employers and participants described the initiative as ‘a victory over negative perceptions of people with disabilities, over nature and over self-limiting beliefs.’
World Jewish Relief staff with Association Anika staff
More than one person on my visit told me that the work supported by World Jewish Relief changed their life, and they wouldn’t want to imagine what their situation would be without it.
It was humbling and inspiring to see what we’ve been able to support through local partners, the impact on the lives of our project participants, and to get a better understanding of the task ahead.