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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘equipment’

An Immigrant’s Tale

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

A friend of mine came to this country from China back in the eighties. China had little opportunity for people like him he tells me, especially after Chairman Mao had destroyed the country. To get anywhere you had to know people and pay them off. Everything, he adds, was corrupt and there was no freedom. America looked better and so he emigrated, married and raised a family here.

Today he works for a city agency as an air conditioning technician making a good salary with an excellent benefits package (including a health insurance plan and a government pension). And he gets lots of opportunity for overtime that supplements his already substantial regular income and contributes to the baseline against which his pension will eventually be calculated. He’s also active in the stock market and is a fairly successful investor.

Still he’s soured on this country of late. Americans live beyond their means, he complains. They spend more than they can afford and finance the difference by borrowing from countries like his former homeland. But why should China keep lending to us, he asks. The Chinese have to be crazy to do it because we’ll never be able to pay them back. Americans are living off the largess of the rest of the world and someday we’ll have to pay the piper, he points out.

In fact, he’s so frustrated over the recent turn of events that he has found himself wondering whether he made the right decision in coming here. When he did, America looked like the future to him but now it seems China is where the economic growth is. America is too full of financial inequities, too, he argues. A confirmed Democrat, he despised George Bush and the last Republican administration. Bush, he insists, spent too much. That’s why we’re in the hole we’re in.

And Barack Obama? In fact he’s a fan of the current president, especially his health care initiative. We need national health care, my friend tells me. When I protest that most people in the country are already covered, one way or the other, he responds by pointing out that there are still some who aren’t.

When I remind him of the good coverage he has for himself and his family under the current system, he reminds me of those who don’t.

What’s wrong with America, my friend goes on, is the big gap between the wealthiest and those who have less. On a personal level, it bothers him that while he is as competent as, or more competent than, the electricians and stationary engineers in his department, they get paid much more than he does while not having to work as hard. That’s a discrepancy that really galls him.

It’s due, of course, to the clout of the unions that represent these workers and the contracts they’ve extracted from the city. Although my friend is a one-of-a-kind tradesman in his agency – the sole staffer on board equipped to maintain and repair sophisticated refrigeration equipment in-house, an essential to that organization because of its heavy reliance on lab equipment, computers and major air conditioning systems – he has no powerful union to represent him as these other workers do and so watches with envy as people he believes less qualified work fewer hours while out-earning him.

Weren’t there inequities in China, I ask? Sure, he says, but in China such gaps are not so obvious. In this country, he says, you have all these Wall Street bankers and insurance industry executives making way more than the rest of us. That, he points out, simply isn’t fair. Are they really worth hundreds of millions of dollars while he is barely worth $80,000 a year before overtime and all the extra work his job requires of him?

And this is to say nothing of those electricians and stationary engineers, the latter of whom basically sit and monitor electronic signals on various pieces of equipment all day while he is running from site to site, getting his hands dirty. Why should others make more than he does if he’s just as smart and qualified?

Americans need to level the playing field, he says, and they need national health care like they have in other countries, including China, so everyone can have equal access to the same level of medical services.

What Can A Few Do?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

What would you do if you were confronted with a seemingly insoluble problem? Would you give up? Would you say, “Let someone else solve it; it’s beyond me?”

Now think of someone who has won your admiration. This individual is usually someone who was thrust into a challenging situation and was motivated to find a solution. Take a visionary with courage, moral values, determination and faith. Throw in a sense of humor. You will now have an ordinary human being, transformed into an individual capable of facing challenges and accomplishing the extra­ordinary!

Such was the situation that presented itself to the Gush Etzion community several years ago.

Two dedicated women realized that many children and young adults with special needs in Gush Etzion were not getting the assistance they needed. Some were categorized as retarded, autistic, learning disabled or simply problematic. These two women felt that with the right educational help, some of these individuals could be mainstreamed into the community. Others would need to spend all their school experience in a special environment.

These women undertook to organize a school for this population. The locale was the local Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim. There they began their project. The results were amazing. They created special programs and a school for 40 adolescent boys ranging in age from 10 to 20 years.

The school offers activities that give the students self-confidence and independence. They are taught to contribute − not just to receive. One of the activities is the therapeutic stables. There they are taught how to ride and take care of horses. There is also a small zoo where they learn to feed and care for the animals. They are taught the halachic principle that one feeds and cares for one’s animals before oneself. They milk the goats and make cheese and yogurt. On Fridays, they bake challah and bring it home to their families. These and many more activities give these young people the feeling of being capable of living normal lives under supervision. This is definitely much more than anyone would have expected. The school’s name is Reishit.

When these special students saw other youngsters involved in special plans during the hot summer months, they were dejected. They didn’t have special summer plans. Everyone seemed to be going to a camp but them.

That is where our B’nei Akiva parent came in. She saw a tremendous need for this population to have summer activities. She saw that she could also fill a void in the adolescent community of Gush Etzion and she combined these two elements.

There is a lack of summer activities in Gush Etzion for teenagers, so why not create a camp? Not an ordinary camp, but a very special camp for some very special people.

For the past few years, 50 B’nei Akiva youth have been running a one-week camp for these youngsters. Some of the activities included a visit to the fire department, a visit by soldiers and a performance by a clown who presented a show and donated her time and balloons to the group. Students from the neighboring Mekor Chaim Yeshiva high school came over one day and presented a play. There was also a fun day on the premises where the campers were able to enjoy inflatable playground equipment such as a water slide.

Their physical prowess was tested on some of the climbing, jumping and bouncing equipment. The most exciting trip was to the nearby Eretz Haye’elim Park.

Some of these activities were run by volunteers, but the supplies and other activities had to be paid for. The B’nei Akiva members ran fundraising activities for months in advance to provide for all the things they needed. Many interested individuals and organizations donated funds, equipment and T-shirts.

The end of the camp week left the B’nei Akiva volunteers tired but ecstatic. One had only to look at the campers’ faces to see their happiness and appreciation.

This is an instance of people who recognized community and personal needs. In order to achieve their goals, they used initiative, strength and creativity. Each step of the way was difficult. They persevered and proved that when one does chesed with emunah in Hashem, the results can be effective and genuinely gratifying.

For further information, contact Sadna at www.sadna.org or e-mail sadna7@bezeqint.net.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/what-can-a-few-do-2/2008/11/19/

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