It is a rare opportunity to sit down to talk to Chaya, EFRAT’s calm volunteer coordinator, as she is typically fielding calls. Chaya has been in her role since October 2018, before which she held an administrative position within the main office team.
The volunteer coordinator has a critical role, often being the first person to speak both to potential volunteers and women seeking help. A few calls come in weekly from potential volunteers, yet with close to 200 active volunteers, EFRAT is not currently accepting new volunteers in this capacity. The volunteer recruitment process involves a telephone interview, understanding a woman’s motivation for approaching the organization, and tuning in to her manner and style of communication. Sensitivity and warmth are key. When a new volunteer starts, EFRAT provides training and close supervision.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Chaya’s role to match women with a volunteer who will be a good fit. Chaya explained that as she gets to know the volunteers, she takes note of details such as a volunteer’s mother tongue, country of origin, background, experience, personality, location etc. and develops a sense of who might be a good fit for a woman who approaches EFRAT for help.
On average, 10 to 20 new cases are received daily. Chaya’s goal is to connect each woman with an appropriate volunteer that same day. Chaya is available to support volunteers, providing clarity about packages of support, guidance in tricky situations etc. Volunteers are encouraged to stay in contact, whether it is to report concerns, give updates or even just to have a chat.
Chaya has no doubt that the biggest gift that a volunteer can give to a woman is to give her space to talk about her fears and doubts without judgment. Where specialist support is needed, EFRAT has a range of professional volunteers who can be referred to when the need arises.
Many volunteers approach EFRAT due to their personal experiences. Perhaps they themselves received support from EFRAT or maybe they had ended a pregnancy which they subsequently felt much regret for, not wanting other women to suffer in the same way as they had. Each volunteer approaches the organization for a different reason but their common goal is to help women who are struggling.
Interview drawing to a close, I had a small insight into the complexity of Chaya’s job. Chaya’s serenity and compassion make her uniquely qualified for her role. Alongside a high level of coordination and efficiency, Chaya brings her strengths of listening, validating and lack of judgment, to the very first contact. Undoubtedly for a woman in a vulnerable position, this can make all the difference.