Gidon is the softly spoken man who runs EFRAT’s visitor center like clockwork, his self-effacing manner belying his efficiency. Gidon has been working for EFRAT for over 15 years. When he first began at the organization, there was only a pile of 10 cribs in the office, pending allocation. Today, 800 cribs alone await delivery in the cavernous warehouse.
Gidon explained that operationally the organization has grown by leaps and bounds. Every year has seen development. There is more public awareness of EFRAT’s activities and many groups come to visit and volunteer. The range of people who contact Gidon is staggering. Children in the area, families, schools, pensioners, after-school clubs; all are welcome. Some pack boxes, others assemble baby kits; there is a job for everyone.
Gidon has systemized every aspect of the running of the warehouse. He showed me the spreadsheet detailing the upcoming schedule of groups coming to volunteer. One day can see 3 groups of 30, come into the warehouse. Organizations and individuals visit from all over the world to see EFRAT’s activities.
Gidon sometimes even welcomes EFRAT parents to the visitor center. Having received EFRAT’s help, they want to chip in by volunteering or they simply would like to see the operational side for themselves. They show amazement at the extent of the support available. Some have even visit before their baby is born, to reassure themselves that concrete help will be coming their way.
I asked Gidon to describe his role. He explained that many of the warehouse tasks involve complex organization. It is critical to store items and packages systematically, so that the warehouse is ready to receive and dispatch deliveries. Volunteer groups are welcomed daily, sometimes with a short speech or a video about EFRAT’s work. Groups are instructed and fully supported to ensure tasks are carried out to specification.
So aside from giving all a warm, unflustered welcome, from international visitors to daily delivery men, Gidon’s job is to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness. An example that Gidon gives me is that all baths are packaged together with their stands and each crib is packaged with its mattress. As delivery is costed per item, this ensures that only one delivery cost is incurred. At a rate of 3,000 deliveries dispatched per month and up to 3 groups volunteering on one day, the warehouse is always bustling.
Gidon was astounded when an unfamiliar delivery man confided in him that he owes his own life to EFRAT. The 6-foot man hugged Gidon when he realized that he was working with EFRAT. He told Gidon that his mother had no money when she was pregnant with him and had planned to terminate her pregnancy. A friend told her about EFRAT and made the appointment which enabled her to keep her pregnancy and have her baby. The delivery man became very emotional as he described his feeling of closing the circle.
On my way out, Gidon left me with one last story. He told me about a lady who had been coming consistently week after week to volunteer at the warehouse. At one point, she told Gidon that she herself had terminated a pregnancy and volunteering helped her to feel a sense of repair. She carried a tremendous sadness and told Gidon that had she wished she had known of EFRAT during that dark time. The woman went on to say that she had subsequently married but was struggling to conceive.
Gidon’s eyes shone as he informed me that a few years later, this lady came to tell him that she was pregnant after a long wait. There was no doubt that this is far more than just a job for Gidon and a short visit to the visitor center made that very clear to me.