Youth Aliyah Child Rescue is a UK-based charity that helps to fund residential villages in Israel for at risk children. Originally set up in 1933 to provide a home and education to children escaping Nazi Europe on the Kindertransport, it now helps children from all over the world, including Israel itself who may have endured extreme poverty, abuse, neglect or other unimaginable hardships within their home life. These residential villages offer a chance for children to grow and develop in a safe, supported and nurturing environment. The Jewish Weekly catches up with Chief Executive Officer, Daliah Mehdi, to find out more about her working day.
09:30 am – I start my day with a quick informal chat with my team so we all know what everyone is working on, and can plan for the week ahead. Right now we are preparing for our 85th Anniversary Dinner which takes place in May, as well as processing donations from our recent Pesach appeal, so there is a lot to keep us busy.
Despite being a small team of five, we manage to achieve a lot mainly because we work really well together, and everyone is happy to help and support each other. Each of us has our own reasons for feeling strongly about this charity. For me, Youth Aliyah Child Rescue has always been in my life, and I feel I grew up with it. As a teen, my father was the Executive Director and I spent my summers visiting the youth villages with him. We would often have students from these villages at our Shabbat or Seder table, so when I joined the charity myself in 2016, I already had a deep understanding of the charity and its importance and wanted to help raise this awareness to more people in the UK.
10:30am – It’s 12:30pm in Israel so the perfect time to contact the youth villages for updates. We support 5 villages and 2 pre-army leadership programmes in total, located in different parts of Israel, which cater for children of all ages. These calls are really important for me to understand the current needs of each village, and to find out what is going on with the students and staff and projects we are working together on. One village may have news on a building project they are planning; another will tell me about a performance by a music student or a military award for one of our graduates. Hearing about how much these children are able to achieve just shows that the programmes in these villages do really work. The statistics are incredible, and the children and staff are truly inspiring. I feel that the greatest testament to the success of our work is in our graduates, who go on do great things – mayors, Knesset members, doctors, engineers, teachers, artists and musicians.
These updates help me to match the perfect project with the right individual donor who may be looking to fund something meaningful to them. I am always so touched by the generosity of our donors and their willingness to give to children whose own parents are not able to care for them shows an incredible amount of compassion and kindness.
11:00am – After catching up with my emails, I make calls to other organisations we are currently partnering with. Whether arranging for an Israel tour to visit one of our youth villages, or working with schools such as JCoSS to host visiting musicians from Israel, we work with many organisations within the Jewish community and I really enjoy the chance to collaborate with them
12:00pm – Our dinner committee is meeting over lunch to continue planning our upcoming event in May. There are so many details to discuss as we want to make sure the evening goes smoothly and is memorable for all the right reasons.
1:30pm – This afternoon I am meeting with our Grants Review Committee, which is one of my favourite parts of my job, but also one of the hardest. It is great to hear about the dreams that the villages have and that we can help make them come true through the money that we raise.
2:30pm – Together with my Fundraising Manager, Nicola, we often meet with supporters who want to help the charity in some way. Today, we are meeting with someone who is planning an event to celebrate her birthday and would like Youth Aliyah Child Rescue to be the beneficiary, so we are helping her to organise the event, and we will be there on her big day to represent the charity.
4pm – We have a call with our fundraising committee to review the plan for the year. Once the dinner is over in May, we will then start planning our sports dinner in November.
4:30pm – I am visiting a family whose son is celebrating his bar mitzvah next year. We are developing a personalised bar mitzvah project for him that fits with his hobbies and interests, but will also benefit the village. Last year, two sports-loving boys raised money to buy an air hockey table for a dormitory in one of our villages and they were able to go and visit the village to see how their donation helped the children. We are always happy to talk to anyone who might be interested and I think it is a really great way to add something to a bar or bat mitzvah experience, and a special thing to do for other children who may not be as fortunate.
6pm – No meetings tonight – which means that I get to spend some time reading Harry Potter with my son. Working for Youth Aliyah Child Rescue makes me really appreciate that not all children have the same start in life, but through the work that we do, we are able to help them heal from their past experiences and move forward. These at risk children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and it is thanks to our amazing supporters and donors that we can continue to make a difference. My goal is to make sure that more people learn about what we do and how they can be a part of investing in Israel’s future in this way.
If you’d like to learn more about our bar/bat mitzvah programme, hosting an event, visiting a village, special projects, or just to learn more about what we do, we’d love to hear from you. Call us on 020 8371 1580 or visit youthaliyah.org.uk