Shlomi with one of the birds
Three cars pulled up outside the olive oil shop on Kibbutz Magal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magal where the twelve Netanya ESRA volunteers started a most enlightening afternoon under the guidance of Shlomi, a member of the kibbutz and director of the Riding and Animal Therapy Center.
The eight different kinds of olive oil were described and offered to us to taste - different strengths and all delicious. Our cars were filled with a wide selection of excellent quality oil which we bought to take back home to our kitchens.
Shlomi then took us to the almond tree groves of the kibbutz, where we walked under a canopy of pink and white blossoms for as far as the eye could see. We saw the beehives and learnt why the number of bees in the world is decreasing - a smaller problem for the almonds of the kibbutz and a huge problem for the environment.
Some of us had brought our “Wellies”, others wore sneakers, but we all had a challenging time walking through the muddy fields. We saw the physical layout of the kibbutz from the groves, and the hills of Palestinian villages in the background.
After this enchanting walk we arrived at the stables and paddocks where they are preparing conditions to stable and raise Arabian horses entrusted to them by private owners. Part of the deal is that the kids in the therapy programs will also be able to use the horses – and the money earned will go directly to the Mishualim Foundation which is run by the Riding Therapy Center for their therapeutic programs.
The stables led to the Riding Therapy Center, the main focus of the afternoon. The center is run by the Mishualim Foundation in partnership with ILAN and ESRA (through a very special donation of the Beck Family).
The horse riding for physically disabled youngsters from 6-18 years old is quite an amazing and exciting activity to observe. They arrive in wheelchairs or with walkers or other aids and are then helped to mount the horses for their riding-time when no one can fail to see the joy shining out of their eyes. Riding helps them physically and mentally, and several children have been saved from the need to undergo operations because their muscles have been strengthened through the riding.
We then watched the children training the beautiful dogs of the center, guided by another excellent professional therapist. Finally we went on to the small wild animal ‘farm’ where the kids undergo more therapy by connecting to the birds, the foxes, the jackals, the monkeys, the huge white python and many other wild animals which seem to know with whom they are dealing and turn into loving pets.
Shlomi is hoping to have a tropical ecological garden around all these animal homes – of course completely wheelchair friendly, as is everything else.
And all this started with a vision seven years ago. We discovered that nothing that Shlomi aims to achieve for the good of children with disabilities can be stopped. He is a true example of a person with vision and passion. His amazing energies are directed towards the wellbeing of these special children with no boundaries of religion, nationality or color. They are all guided by him and shown that they too can do whatever they wish to do.
Yes, the sky is the limit when you are realizing your vision, and of course your passion just grows. “All I want is to make the kids feel they are loved”, said Shlomi.