(The application form is at http://nswas.org/article235.html)
If you are considering coming to NS/WAS as a volunteer, please read the following.
- Two former volunteers
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam accepts a small number of volunteers (usually between 5 and 6) at all times of the year. Our primary motivation for accepting volunteers is economic: given our financial constraints, volunteers provide inexpensive and effective help in various branches of the village. But aside from economic considerations, we are happy to receive volunteers in order to provide a means for those who would like to learn about our work to become acquainted with us more closely.
From experience, we know that NSWAS can offer volunteers an enriching and rewarding time: they can learn about the different cultures in Israel and the conflict between them, about the responses to this conflict expressed in the village and its educational institutions; they can learn about living in close contact with their volunteer group; and sometimes they can learn something about themselves.
On the other hand, there are certain things NSWAS cannot offer volunteers. It is important to clarify these, so you will not be frustrated or disappointed, and in order to give you better grounds for your decision to come to work for us.
Some volunteers arrive with the expectation that they will be able to play an active role in our educational work. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The School for Peace is run by a permanent professional staff of Israeli Jews and Palestinians, and is not able to integrate others who have not been specially trained for the work. The other branches of the village are also managed in a way that does not involve volunteers in decision-making or place them in positions of authority.
The actual work done by volunteers is in the area of the everyday running of the village. Our volunteers assist with basic tasks in the guest house, kitchen, nursery, kindergarten, school, offices, general maintenance and gardening. Much of the work is not interesting in itself, and the specific work-place is decided by the needs of the village.
Naturally, we do not underestimate the value of this labour, which is an important contribution to what Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam and its educational institutions are trying to do. But we do not want to disappoint you in regard to the type of work you will be doing.
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a small community of people who have chosen to live here because of the special qualities of the village as a binational community. The community is made up mainly of families who live their own lives, working either inside the village or outside, cooking, eating and spending time in their homes, and participating in the democratic processes of the community. The village is not communal (as in a kibbutz), though it has many cooperative aspects.
In this community, the volunteers naturally spend most of their free time with each other, and tend to form their own social group. Contacts with village members depend very much on personal initiative, though there is a well-founded potential for such contact.
NSWAS is situated on a hilltop seven kilometers off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It takes a half-hour to drive to either of these cities, though Jerusalem is more popular with the volunteers. To get there, the volunteers either borrow the village car to drive each other down to the bus stop, or rely on rides from other people going into town (usually not too difficult).
Here are some additional points and rules for your information:
Application for candidacy
The application form is at http://nswas.org/article235.html
Applicants should be at least 20 years old by the beginning of their volunteer period.
Since volunteers need to do do their own weekly grocery shopping, we will look more favorably on applicants who have a driver’s license.
Period of Stay
We usually prefer volunteers to come for a period of between 3 and 6 months Shorter periods may be acceptable, depending on requirements at a given time. Longer periods are subject to special approval by the visa authorities and may need to be explained (such as if this is a requirement of an organization that is sending you).
Role of the Volunteer Coordinator
The volunteer coordinator arranges the work schedule and looks after the needs of the volunteers. Where possible she arranges programs or activities for the group.
The volunteer coordinator is available during regular working hours.
Volunteers work 5 days a week, 8 hours a days. Working days may be Sunday to Thursday or Monday to Friday, depending upon the needs of the institution. Sometimes volunteers may be required to work for more, and if so, this time is returned in the form of leave.
Holidays and Leave Taking
Depending on the demands of the branch in which the volunteer is employed, Friday and Saturday are free days.
Holidays (for Christian volunteers) are: December 25, January 1, Easter Day, and Israel’s Independence Day. Volunteers of other faiths will be able to receive alternative dates - subject to approval ahead of time.
Every month, a volunteer accumulates one extra day of leave. The volunteer may take this leave only at the end of the period of employment, or for medical emergencies and renewal of visas.
Workers in the nursery work 6 days a week with only Saturday off. They may not be released during working hours except in emergencies. They are entitled to compensate for the loss of Fridays, by taking leave when the nursery is on holiday.
If the volunteer finds him or herself, for whatever reason, without work, it is his or her responsibility to approach the volunteer coordinator in order to be assigned work.
Each volunteer has his/her own room, though this is quite small and "basic". Bathroom and toilet facilities are separate and shared, as is the kitchen. Cooking and cleaning are shared tasks. The volunteers are expected to maintain the volunteer quarters tidy and clean.
Allowance and privileges
Monthly pocket money: NIS 250 per month, payable from the end of the first month of employment.
Use of NS/WAS vehicles (see appropriate section).
Once every three months the volunteers may organize together a volunteer trip. Please speak to the volunteer coordinator about the conditions under which such a trip may be taken.
Medical Insurance and Treatment
Volunteers must purchase and maintain full medical insurance for the duration of their stay in NSWAS.
During the time of their employment, volunteers are insured for work accidents by NSWAS.
Upon arrival in Israel, volunteers must find their own way to the village. The cost of a taxi from the airport is around NIS 200 (November 2010) but it is advisable to demand that the driver will operate the taxi meter (as required by law).
Community vehicles are intended for official use by NS/WAS employees. The volunteers may use vehicles only to travel as far as the town of Modiin for weekly grocery shopping. Other trips, such as trips to the junctions should be arranged, where possible, with village members.
Dining and Shopping
The volunteers have their own kitchen, and take care of their own cooking as a group. They do their own grocery shopping for the group in a nearby supermarket.
The budget is determined according to the number of volunteers present. Purchase of groceries is made on a basis of once a week on a day determined in advance. Money for purchase of groceries must be collected from the accounts department during regular working hours. Permissible items: food, cleaning materials (no alcoholic beverages, items for personal hygiene, cosmetics, etc).
For General information about visas and passport requirements see also the Israel Government Portal
Instructions regarding visas will be sent to you once your volunteer application has been accepted. The intern must apply for and pay for a voluntary work visa (in October 2015 the cost was NIS 1,000 for the first 3 months, including registration, handling and mandatory health insurance, and then (afterwards) NIS 500 for the next three months). The volunteer or intern should arrange with his or her place of employment in order to take time off work in order to arrange visa renewal.
An official letter should be obtained from the volunteer coordinator.
During the period of employment, visits by guests does not permit the taking of leave.
Guests who stay with the volunteers in their rooms are expected to cover the expenses of food.
Parents or friends of the volunteers may come to stay in the guest house at a reduction of at least 15% - subject to availability of accommodation.
Guests are expected to pay the regular admission fee to the swimming pool.
Drivers’ License: We ask you to bring your driver’s license (driving permit), if you have one. Most national drivers’ licenses are accepted in Israel.
Washing machine: Volunteers have access to a washing machine for laundry.
Swimming Pool: the volunteers may use the swimming pool during the season for free, however their guests must pay the regular admission fee.
Personal belongings: NS/WAS does not take responsibility for, or provide insurance for, personal belongings of the volunteers. Valuables may be deposited with the treasurer for safe-keeping.
Termination of Volunteer Employment
NS/WAS retains the right to terminate the employment and stay of any volunteer if such becomes necessary.
Volunteers who find they must leave before the date they have agreed upon must inform the volunteer coordinator at the earliest opportunity in order that a replacement volunteer can be found. This must be done at least one month in advance.
After their termination of employment, the volunteer is entitled to retain his or her room, and will receive an allowance, for the number of days of leave that have been accrued during the period of employment.
At the end of their stay, volunteers are expected to leave their room in a clean and tidy condition for the next volunteer.
If, after reading the above conditions you are still not discouraged, we assure you that we will try our best to make your stay in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam enjoyable and interesting, as it has been for many other volunteers.