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Meet Elad, an Outreach Van Volunteer

By August 27, 2021No Comments

“Ever since I started volunteering for ELEM, certain things have changed their meaning. The youth I met in the middle of the night by our blue van may have spoken Hebrew, just like I do, but their language was different from my own.

To see – she sat on the bench in the middle of the street. She wasn’t dressed for the weather. Her hands were on her face. So many people passed her by, but no one stopped. I grabbed a cup of tea and sat down next to her. I introduced myself and offered her the cup. She said nothing, she just moved back and forth, tears falling down her cheeks. I got up and put the cup next to her. “I’m really worried about you. If you want a blanket or just to talk, we’re sitting right over there.” She didn’t respond, so I crossed the street. After I finished a conversation with another youth, I looked back, but she was gone, and so was the cup. Two weeks ago she came back. “It didn’t even occur to me that someone saw me,” she said.

To talk – “Elad, come on. Who can I tell about this? My father, who’ll get upset? My mom, who’ll be so sad she’ll start crying? My friends who won’t understand and will talk about me behind my back? How can I make the pain stop? How can I talk about this?”

To pass – They come and go. Some stop by for a cup of tea, for biscuits and a slice of cake. They sketch something, they sit with us for five minutes or half an hour. The word ‘pass’ comes up often. ‘To get past the day,’ to ‘pass through the night,’ to pass the time somehow because there’s nowhere to come back to. They told their parents they’re spending the night at a friend’s house, and that’s if the parents even asked. And who knows what or whom they’ll encounter when everyone is asleep? When the door to their home is locked?

“I deserve it, Elad. You should know this. I know I’m not a good person, and I did a lot of bad things in my life. Trust me. I only seem innocent. That’s why I don’t blame him for anything. It didn’t happen randomly. I deserve it. I deserve all of it.”

My daughter asked me what is it that I do out here until the middle of the night. “I just sit and talk to whomever stops by,” I told her.

It’s funny. All the conversations, all the words exchanged, and I still couldn’t explain it to her. How sometimes there’s nothing more permanent than a random encounter, that it’s actually the silence that requires so much effort, that one person, one good person who speaks with them, who smiles at them, is more than enough.”

-Elad Raveh, Outreach Van volunteer

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