SA community rallies to support the elderly

A Telfed PRAS scholarship recipient does a pre-Pesach grocery shop for an elderly Oleh in quarantine in Jerusalem.

We watched with dread as an international pandemic crept closer to home.

From the outset, guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health mandated that citizens over 60 and the immunocompromised, the most vulnerable, remain at home. In true Israeli style, our huge extended family rallied to support the elderly. South African Olim in all walks of life have, each in their own capacity, stepped up — groceries have been delivered, medications have been purchased, documents have been translated and countless phone calls have been made.

Telfed’s student volunteers, PRAS scholarship recipients who volunteer with the elderly and new Olim, have continued their regular ‘meetings’ with their clients by phone or video calls. They have assisted with online shopping, given crash courses on how to access a multitude of online resources and, most importantly, they have offered company during these quieter times.

Tenants in Telfed’s buildings, many of them new to Israel, have their own network of support — their neighbours. Mira was unable to purchase medication upon her return to Israel due to the required two-week quarantine. She contacted Telfed’s property manager and her neighbours came to her aid. ‘The volunteers Telfed organised were so kind and helpful,’ said Mira. ‘I am so grateful to everyone.’ Another tenant added that ‘although this is an incredibly frightening time, we feel blessed to be in the Telfed building, we have such amazing, supportive neighbours.’

We have been inundated with requests for assistance. In one case, Telfed’s social worker received a desperate call from a couple in their 70s whose bank account had been frozen. Unable to meet with the bank manager in person, or to solve the issue over the phone with their basic Hebrew, our social worker mediated with the bank, ensuring the couple had the ability to pay their rent and purchase food.

The Telfed Tiyul Team has provided much-needed comic relief with new ‘tours’ where they recommend pacing the corridors. New Olim who have gone straight into quarantine have received welcome meals from Telfed’s countrywide network of regional volunteers. Telfed’s employment department has offered free online webinars and, together with volunteers, have assisted with applications for unemployment grants.

We often speak of the importance of being part of a strong and dynamic community of Olim in Israel and in times of crisis, our very big Olim family surpasses expectations.

Website: Telfed

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