International Women’s Day is THE most important day each year in the Russian speaking culture. On this day women are honored, usually with flowers. No cooking, cleaning, working; its a pampering day. In fact, in Israel if you have not pre-ordered flowers, on that day the only flowers left in the shop are broken or crushed on the floor. Seriously. This is BIG.
So, in accordance with this event, AHI gives out flowers on that special day wherever possible. We also give out candy to the men for Protector of the Motherland Day which was the week before.
- In Arad, where I first visited Survivors, we have done this every year.
- In Tzfat we delivered them ourselves a few days early with a team of volunteers.
- This year, for the first time, we arranged for delivery by a flower shop in Afula and Migdal ha Emek.
- We gave away flowers in Akko to those we knew were lonely and without family
This year we gave out 189 flower bouquets for this special holiday and 76 boxes of candy. That is a total of $2228. Seems like a lot of money for flowers and candy, doesn’t it? We always ask ourselves one question after doing a project for the Survivors:
Was the project worth the cost?
The whole process sounds easy enough: Get the flowers, grab some volunteers and give them out. But if we look at the logistics of doing this:
For Migdal ha Emek we arranged delivery:
- Drive one hour to meet with the directors of the committee
- Arrange for a translator to accompany us
- After discussion, we go to a flower shop and arrange for flower purchase and delivery
- Since the holiday was on Shabbat (when stores close) this year, the owner of the flower shop agreed to deliver them Saturday evening and Sunday morning
For Afula we did it over the phone:
- Researched flower shops in Afula (this is not like opening the phone book- it had to be done in Hebrew)
- Called and made arrangements
- Emailed the information- email bounced back; got it corrected
- The shop elected to give nice cards with the flowers and a discount for us as a thank you for our work.
In Tzfat we delivered flowers and candy in two cars:
- We picked up the flowers the day before
- The volunteer team arrived in Akko and we left right away
- One hour drive to Tzfat and meet with the president of the WWII refugees
- Flower delivery was difficult as we were not familiar with Tzfat
- Flower delivery took five hours for 20 bouquets
- Exhausted by the end, we met with the president of the Survivor association and she had a meal waiting for us. It was wonderful!
For Akko we ordered flowers in the shop downtown:
- Ordered them for 9:30am two days before holiday
Could not be ready that early; not until 11:30
- Okay, change of plans- visit Survivor in the morning and pick up flowers later
- Picked up flowers- another issue came up. Delivered some but could not finish the deliveries
- As the volunteer team was going on another project the next day, one of the Volunteers offered to stay & deliver all the flowers the next day
- Volunteer was only able to deliver six bouquets on the holiday
- A second Volunteer finished the day after
For Arad we pre-ordered the flowers one month ahead of time:
- Team left at 5:30am for 3.5 hour drive to Arad
- Arrived and met the association president; then picked up the flowers
- Took two cars, divided the list and addresses up for two teams
- Took three hours to deliver the flowers- buildings have missing numbers, doors have no numbers, Survivors moved, Survivors in the hospital, hard to find (go to the 5th floor with no elevator to find it is the wrong building…)
- Part of the team returned home in the north; seven hours of driving, plus driving for the deliveries, all in the same day.
Was it worth the cost and effort?
- Ask the woman who cried and cried and could not believe anyone would remember her for this special day.
- Ask the lonely man who bowed low upon receiving his candy and stood at his gate smiling and waving
- Ask the president of the association who is so pleased to have someone paying attention to her members
- Ask the Survivor whose husband recently died. He would have given her flowers this day but she did not expect to receive any…
- Ask the Survivor who lost his mother and could no longer honor her on this day. She saved him and his brother from being killed by the Nazis during the war. Her death has left a huge hole in his life.
- Ask the couple who are grateful for each day since his stroke, pleased to be visited and receive a gift.
- Ask the volunteers who cried after each visit, as their hearts were touched and changed.
- Ask God what He thinks of those who are willing to bring some joy and honor to a people group; The Only One who understands what they suffered.
We think it was worth every penny and every shekel and every tear.
Giving with the Compassion of Adonai,