Souley, pictured far right, with JEVS colleague Tali Elisha (next to Souley) visit with new friends from Israel Elwyn.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to travel to Israel with my co-worker Tali Elisha from our human resources team, as part of JEVS’ annual professional exchange program with Israel Elwyn. The exchange is funded by the Samuel P. Mandell Foundation to promote learning and development between our two organizations. While in Israel, we had the pleasure to meet with Israeli government officials, tour schools and Elwyn’s vocational, employment and support programs for persons with disabilities.
Established in 1984, Israel Elwyn’s vision is to achieve a society in which people with disabilities will be citizens with equal rights; a society in which we all aspire to determine our own future and way of life. Israel Elwyn develops and operates a wide range of supports and tools for individuals with disabilities, while constantly striving to provide excellent service and to create a just society. Israel Elwyn provides services to children, teenagers and adults with disabilities throughout Israel.
The visits we made included:
- Supported Living Services, including competitive employment programs, early intervention services, special education creative educational and enrichment activities.
- Employment Centers and Social Employment Enterprises, including a direct mail facility, a digital archiving enterprise, and an industrial food service.
- The Mosaic Program, which enables young adults with disabilities ages 18-24 who are exempt from military service, to join the National Service program and contribute to Israeli society as do their peers.
This was without a doubt the best trip of my life. I cannot thank the Israel Elwyn staff enough for their hospitality and willingness to share their best practices. It was an amazing and informative trip. As a Muslim, I was raised to treat people with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, we are living in challenging times when religion can cloud our way of seeing and interacting with people. To travel in Israel and to be welcomed the way I was filled my heart with hope that we can live and work together in ways that make life better for all people, regardless of faith, race, nationality or disability. A visit to Israel is not a vacation. It is an emotional and educational experience that I will never forget.
Contributed by Souleymane Fall, JEVS’ Director of Employment Services