Shalom! My name is Bertha Perez. I was born in Colombia, and I live in Portugal. I grew up in a family always active in the military. I always dreamed to support volunteerism in military bases, and when I learned than in Israel it was possible, we arrived in Tel Aviv on July 3, 2011.
We were assigned to a new military base in the Negev, near Beersheva.We were transported on a bus from Tel Aviv to the base. Our little group was comprised of 25 volunteers from countries like Israel, America, Italy, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Spain and Portugal. We headed for the south of Israel. The language spoken in the group was English, so Michelle, my daughter, did a good job translating everything for me into Spanish. In the group we had about seven veterans. Some were already part of volunteering for 20 years.
Our base: It’s a workplace, for national emergencies. Since we arrived we were very well received, they gave us uniforms and showed us our dormitories. To work we had the command of a Major Sergeant who was always very grateful forour help. He was a hard worker with very good sense of humor. Our work was more of logistical support in the store, we also painted tanks and some volunteers helped in the kitchen, where they learned gastronomy of Israel.
The group environment was nice because we were all willing to serve the soldiers while the soldiers were always nice to us. We all had something in common: our love for Israel and the prayer to God to protect this land.
I felt very happy to have taken my daughter. She is young, hard-working, very easy to deal with. She won the affection of the whole group. She was the younger one among us, “the little girl” of the group. She had no communication barriers. She could express what she felt naturally. The food at the base was good. We did not see in the base any fat soldiers …!
We went to bed early and got up at 6:30 in the morning. An hour later we should all be eating breakfast and then go out and raise the flag, where our uniforms were reviewed and where we were given a summary of the most important news that had come on the news nationally and internationally. Then we would go to work all afternoon.
I shared the room with three other ladies, they were Americans, married to American Jews. They were very sympathetic with me, my greatest difficulty was not speaking English. One of them spoke a little Spanish, and when she understood what I was saying, she communicated it to the other two colleagues in the room. We worked all day long and then we met in our room, each one of us was in bed with our respective tablet. We all enjoyed reading. We slept in bunk beds of 60 cm wide with a foam mattress of 4 cm thick. I thought I was going to be uncomfortable, but our night’s rest was very good.
Several times a day, we had helicopters flying around the area of the Negev.
We have only words of thanks and love in our hearts. We were treated really well, our parting was filled with tears of gratitude. All of the time, we felt as if we were in our own home. Thank you very much to all people working in Sar- El for giving us this wonderful opportunity!