Helping Children Thrive Through Mentorship

Tahany Okby
As a Master of Social Work student at McGill, I got to participate in a program called ICAN. Amal, the program coordinator, got in touch with Marcie at Ometz, who is now my mentor/community organizer. Marcie then put me in contact with Janice who coordinates volunteering at Ometz, and with the help of all three of these ladies I was able to complete my ICAN fellowship at Ometz.
Ibtesam (my colleague from McGill) and I came to Ometz twice a week and got to work with kids aged 8-12. We helped them with their homework, did social activities, had dinners together, and sometimes we went to the library and we read books and played together.

I’m Palestinian from Israel and I’m a therapist that works with at-risk children who struggle with mental health and disabilities. Ometz really reminded me of my country, so I felt very comfortable. When I entered the organization, I felt like I entered an organization in Israel. To hear the Hebrew and help children with their homework in Hebrew was exciting for me.

To me, it is very important to have these services. When I saw the children enter the room and saw their smiles, I felt like they were very happy to be there. Also, I don’t know how available their parents are to help with homework, so it was important to be able to sit down and help them one-on-one. There were 2 children with learning disabilities in the group, so to give them the opportunity to obtain help was very important. They became much less frustrated with their homework, and they were more comfortable to ask questions.
I appreciate what Ometz is doing. One of the most fulfilling parts for my colleagues and I was to explain rules and discipline to the children in a way they could understand. It’s so important for them to learn these skills.

My only wish was that I got to spend even more time with them. The kids took about 3 weeks to warm up to us, and I felt like I didn’t have time to develop a proper relationship with them, but I would have liked to. I also would have liked to have more input in the program, but since it was already established there wasn’t much I could do. Other than that my experience was really amazing.

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