A neglected piece of land in Kiryat Yearim Youth Village, just outside of Jerusalem, has turned into a bustling “animal corner”. In a nearby plot, the kids have also planted an impressive garden full of herbs and medicinal plants

In the last few months, the young residents of Kiryat Yearim Youth Village have made one of their dreams come true. With the help of Spirit of Israel volunteers, the students have transformed a neglected piece of land to an “animal corner”, and a nearby plot into a flourishing garden

Fostering a connection between young people and nature has long been a positive educational and therapeutic approach, and one that was successfully implemented through this project. The animal corner and its nearby garden, spanning an area of about 1.2 acres (5 dunams), supplies the students with plenty of opportunities to experience the educational value of labor.

Through their work with the animals and in the garden, the students learn about nature and life, experience new forms of interaction, absorb new tools and implement safety regulations, work on their communication skills and take on new initiatives and responsibilities.

When man takes care of nature, nature takes care of man

Thanks to the kind donation of tech company Matrix, the new animal corner now holds donkeys, goats, ducks, reptiles, hares, chickens, a fish pond and even a couple of dogs. The students now have access to animals, and these newly formed connections help not only in addressing their emotional needs, but also strengthen their skills and self-worth. Moreover, their work on establishing and nurturing the animal corner has strengthened the students’ commitment to it, and they continue to take daily care of the animals.

Letting nature into the heart of the village

Next to the animal corner, a garden was established, containing two plots: the Rambam Garden, which is already growing, and an organic garden, which will grow and flourish in the near future. The Rambam garden was established with the help of 70 volunteers from the Business Division of Bank Hapoalim (Bank Hapoalim Biz) in the framework of the Good Deeds Day.

The bank employees, led by Jacob Orbach, head of the corporate banking division and Eli Zahav, head of Bank Hapoalim Biz, came to the village for a full day’s work that included construction, renovation, and the creation of something from nothing – a garden full of herbs and medicinal plants according to the teachings of the Rambam. Despite the heavy rains, the volunteers, along with the students, worked hard to prepare the animal corner for the goats and donkeys, even laying out tuff around the fish pond. Then, they turned their focus on erecting the garden, and the planting of various medicinal plants.

The garden is now cultivated by the students who, through the work, strengthen their connection to the village, the land and their Jewish roots.

So thank you, Mother Nature. And thank you, dedicated volunteers from Bank Hapoalim and kind donors from Matrix. You have helped to bring nature into the heart of Kiryat Yearim Youth Village and its residents.