For most of us, the word ‘I’ permeates our conversation. I feel, I believe, I am worried about. But what exactly is that ’I’ ? We don’t think so much about the question since our various parts work together. We think of an idea, dial a friend to discuss it, click on the mouse to research it, walk to the appropriate place to procure what we need. But then there are the people whose parts do not work together. They’re bright, intelligent, creative. They have opinions. An idea may percolate in their minds but they are not able to make the phone call, use a computer, walk to the nearest store, speak to friends. And so the idea remains. Crying to be developed. Aching to be shared with others. Eventually deteriorating and dying the death of all its predecessors. And the ‘I’? The ‘I’ becomes embittered and withers away into nothingness.
There it stands, a picturesque chalet surrounded by luxuriant foliage in a rustic village located in Nechalim. From a distance it exudes a quiet loveliness but come closer and you’ll see that it is anything but quiet. Everywhere you look, there are motorized wheelchairs and their owners are going from here to there, busy, busy, busy, very intent on achieving their goals. Their goals are many – these severely handicapped young people. Some are unable to walk, others unable to speak but all have talents, opinions, desires.
In partnership with the Israeli government Social Services, Ezer Mizion has set up nine centers throughout the country with activities for these precious souls who want so much to accomplish. Each center has separate programs for boys and girls featuring activities such as art, sports and 3D printing. The 3D printing is especially popular with many participants creating items that can be used to further their own goals. One girl who has no use of her fingers, severely limiting her abilities, was so proud to display a helmet with a paint brush attached. True, her fingers were useless but her head could be moved. The helmet will allow her, a talented young woman with so many ideas bubbling inside her mind, to express herself artistically. “This is the first time I ever completed something myself!” she cried out joyfully as she displayed her ‘invention’ to all those around her.
Then there was Ahuvi who won a place in everyone’s hearts. Ahuvi was the personification of positivity. Her friendliness overflowed, greeting everyone in her presence with great warmth and enthusiasm.
Born 26 years ago with severe physical disabilities but with normal cognition, it would have been understandable if Ahuvi would have been hostile or depressed. But that wasn’t her at all! She was truly content with her lot, satisfied with her activities and all her accomplishments. Her joie de vivre was infectious, creating sunshine wherever she went. She strove for independence but understood how to graciously accept assistance with gratitude and a desire to reciprocate.
She delighted in the Matan activities. A recent sunny day found her, surrounded by friends, taking a spin on Ezer Mizion’s adapted bikes. Ezer Mizion is gratified to have made Ahuvi’s life so much more pleasant, so much more meaningful. But now the time has come to say goodbye. Ahuvi’s heart, so full of caring and giving, was physically too weak to withstand that monster named Corona. Ahuvi, your “I” is whole now, reaping your reward for overcoming a so very difficult test. But we here at Matan Day Center will miss your effervescent ‘shalom ‘. A shadow of sadness will pervade your favorite places as we pass by and there is no Ahuvi to bring a smile to the most downcast face. Or perhaps we will yet smile in remembrance of your joyful spirit. Perhaps we will remember and try to be an Ahuvi, bringing warmth to another’s heart, imitating one whose limbs were lacking but whose spirit soared to the heights of giving. Ahuvi, we’ll miss you.