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Learning From One Another -Ten Kavod Ariel – The Story of Shlomo Cohen and Valery Delegach
Shlomo lives in the city of Ariel located in central Samaria and is currently studying Civil Engineering at Ariel University. He is part of the Impact student program which provides scholarships to students in return for volunteering. Shlomo visits a senior citizen by the name of Valery Delegach who immigrated to Israel in 1990 after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“When I decided that I wanted to volunteer I approached the Impact program and they had a number of options of where I could volunteer. I saw a number of options, but a friend of mine who volunteers for United Hatzalah, told me about the project and I thought that it was something that is very much needed. I reached out to Tali Bagizada, the local coordinator of the Ten Kavod Project in Ariel and she told me about the project. Once I heard about what the program is, and how much it helps the senior citizens of the community I knew that this was the project for me and that this is how I wanted to give back to the community.”
Shlomo began contacting Valery during the Coronavirus era and has been in touch with Valery once a week for the past year and a half. They started out with just phone calls as in-person meetings were not allowed. Then they began to meet with masks on and outside only, but now after the vaccines, and during the lulls between waves Shlomo goes to visit at least once a week taking the appropriate precautions necessary.
“Every time we meet up I really enjoy it as he tells some of the best stories and I learn a lot. We go on walks together with our dogs. Valery has a dog that is smaller than mine and the dogs like to play and race. He can’t get around as easily as he used to but we still make an effort to walk the dogs together. Valery’s Hebrew isn’t great but he is teaching me some Russian and I am happy to learn. We do the best we can to communicate and we both really enjoy it.”
Sholom added, “It is really moving for me when we share jokes and I see him smile. His wife helps translate for us and we all get a good laugh. Being with Valery actually helps me as being with him and his wife help cause me to miss my home and family less. I feel like I have a strong purpose here in helping them, in addition to my studies. I also really enjoy the fact that even though I am getting a scholarship, I’m not getting something for nothing, I’m giving something back as well and to me that is important.”
Shlomo has another year-and-a-half left in his degree and is not sure where he will end up after he finishes, but one thing is for certain, he will keep up his connection with Valery. “We’ve already made plans to continue visiting one another when I finish my studies. My relationship with Valery isn’t something that I foresee myself giving up,” Shlomo concluded.
Valery was born in Kharkiv Ukraine and immigrated to Israel with the wave of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. He worked for many years as a mechanical engineer before he retired and settled down in Ariel.
“This is the second year that I am participating in the program and that Shlomo is coming to visit with me,” Valery said. “I am very happy with the project and with Shlomo. Whenever he comes to visit, we sit and talk together with my wife who helps translate for us as my Hebrew isn’t good. We walk our dogs together and sometimes we eat meals together or drink coffee. He checks my vital signs when my wife isn’t around to do it.”
“Each visit is enjoyable, but it was very moving for me to receive a special gift for the holidays that Shlomo brought. In general, it is nice to have a young person around the house helping. If he sees that we need something he always helps us. We have children and grandchildren of our own, but another young person to look after us and care for us is always a good thing. A strong friendship has formed between us and I consider Shlomo a good friend. I help him sometimes with his studies as I was also an engineer. He asks me questions and I help teach him what I can. Shlomo is studious and I think that it is very good that he receives a scholarship that helps him pay for his schooling.”
“I want to say thank you to the organizers of the project and to those who donated the money to enable the project to take place. It is very meaningful for me and I am appreciative of it and of Shlomo coming to visit with me and my wife.”
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