Wednesday, November 09, 2005
today's post: "mommy, can I keep him??" and "oppressing the blogger"
When last I wrote I was heading off to Jerusalem for the day to meet with Shay, a friend/classmate from the Livnot program, to head to an animal shelter that she has been volunteering at. We met up at the Livnot campus and then headed off to the shelter.

The day was cold, rainy and windy. When we arrived I did my best to brace myself for the heartbreak ahead, for animal shelters, in my experience, are rarely places of happiness. As we entered I was saddened by the conditions under which the staff and volunteers were trying to work. Given the lack of funds/donations the shelter is doing the best it can to manage, but there are 300 dogs and more cats than I could run home with a keep. ;-)

I'm not going to get into this too much because there will be a future post about the shelter, complete with a tour using pictures. But I will say that I did cry as I walked around taking pictures of the dogs outside in muddy pens as the rain came down. The people at this shelter are trying so hard to take care of these lost souls, but they need more help. All I wanted to do was scoop up all the animals and take them somewhere warm and dry. I wanted for them to all have a home, and I felt helpless because I couldn't give it to them. Instead, I tried my best to pet as many of them as I could. They are attention starved and grateful for any love you can give them.

After our time at the shelter (muddy, wet and cold kids that we were) we headed back to the Livnot campus to warm up and find a snack. My friend Shay has some food leftover in the fridge so we snacked on that as we talked about the shelter. Unexpectedly, the founder of the Livnot program walked into the kitchen, gave us a look over, said hi, and left. I told my friend Shay that I wasn't feeling a good vibe from this situation and that I got the distinct impression that I was not welcome.

2 minutes later the founder walked back in and asked to speak to me alone. Oh great, I thought... here it comes. Without getting into details about our conversation (since I don't publish private conversations, though in this case I ought to) let's just say that he expressed his utter dismay.. no, disgust.. at my blog and the things I had said. According him what I had done was wrong. Really? I thought there was the right to freedom of expression. I thought it was my right to say on my own personal blog how I felt about what was going on and about my frustrations at not being heard. In fact, I dare suggest that if we in the program had been heard I wouldn't have had to vent about it on my blog.

But I digress. In a nutshell I was made to feel unwelcome despite being told when I was leaving (by the program leader himself) that I was welcome back anytime, including to his own private home (which I thought was damn fine and upstanding of him). I asked repeatedly if he (the founder in the kitchen with me) wanted me to leave but he was afraid that if he asked me to leave I would blog about how he had thrown me out.

Oh the drama of it all. And oh so passive-aggressive.

I got the point and left shortly thereafter. I was disappointed that I had left the program on a fairly good note and on good terms with the program leader only to have the owner/founder come in at the end and spoil it. All I can say to him (since I'm sure he's reading this now) is that he had better be ready for more bloggers to join the program in the future, and be prepared because those bloggers are going to help keep the program accountable for what's going on. It's time for self reflection to see what's really going on within the organization and stop blaming the problems on the participants. Having talked to people from past programs, these problems are not new. One such person said they encountered the same problems... and they were there in 1997.

There are a lot of bloggers out there, so I won't be the last.... maybe in your interviews you should start asking the potential participants if they have a blog? That way you can weed us loudmouthed troublemakers out right away, hm?
*sigh* So sad.

Anyway! Yesterday was a day of laundry, in preparation for my exit from Israel. Today I am heading to the post office to ship some stuff out and then I'm going to spend some time today repacking my luggage. Tomorrow... I am off to England.