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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dutch volunteer gets kibbutz training from her mother

Tanya came to Israel to volunteer at Kibbutz Nir Oz over 30 years ago, now her daughter Sama is following in her footsteps – and mom decided to come along for the ride

Members of Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel were surprised to see a Dutch tourist walking along the kibbutz paths and telling a young volunteer how to get to the dining room and what time members need to rise and shine during the fruit picking season.

Only a select few realized that the enthusiastic instructor was once a volunteer herself – who is back to recreate the kibbutz experience with her daughter.

The first time that Tanya, 53, arrived at Nir Oz was at the end of the 70s. That time around she came with a group of Dutch teens for a few months of volunteer work.

Now, 35 years later, she was once again strolling along the kibbutz paths, remembering the days when she would walk there with her friends under the admiring eyes of the local Sabras.

“We would walk around like princesses, the boys would go crazy,” she told her daughter. “I’m so excited to be back here, it takes me back to the most beautiful period of my life.”

Tanya landed in Israel with her daughter Sama, 18, who grew up listening to her mother’s kibbutz stories and decided to experience the kibbutz first hand. Tanya, as a mom and experienced volunteer decided to accompany her daughter – at least for the first stage.

“It always sounded like a dream to me,” said Sama. “From a very young age I knew I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and volunteer on a kibbutz in Israel. I really want to work on the kibbutz and try new things that we don’t have in Holland and of course, to make new friends.”

‘People are the same good people’

During her stay in Israel Tanya will also take an active part in the farm work, offering her a great opportunity to spend some quality time with her daughter and to soak up some nostalgia from her own glamour days on the kibbutz.

“I remember we picked the lemons, worked in the fields, the laundry, the children’s house and the dining room,” she remembers.

“We got to know about manual labor and communal living but we mostly we enjoyed the freedom on the kibbutz, everything was free: Cigarettes, drinks, even the vodka.” Tanya soon found out that the free lunch aspect of the kibbutz was now over.

“They explained that everything costs money now… but that’s ok, the most important thing is that the people are the same good people they were.”

Some 30 kibbutzim take part in the Kibbutz Movement’s volunteers from abroad program. Last year over 1,200 volunteers from 30 countries came to Israel within the framework of the program.

The volunteers remain on the kibbutz for a period of between three to six months with a special Interior Ministry visa. They are each paired up with a kibbutz where they live and work while also touring the country.