"I want to do national service; it's important to me because I live in the State of Israel and want to contribute," said Nida Abuliga, 18, who has been volunteering at the Rambam Medical center in Haifa for the last couple of months.
"In my community they don't really approve of what I do, because we're Muslim, but in my house it's considered important," she added.
The issue of national service is considered very controversial among Israel's Arabs, especially in light of the Education Ministry's initiative from two years ago to expand their inclusion in the program.
However, a poll recently conducted by the Maagar Mochot research institute for the Volunteering Association found that Israeli Arabs were highly motivated to join national service instead of army service.
"I do everything at the hospital – clean, install computers, organize medical equipment, make the beds," said Nida. "If my parents approve of it then the community doesn't have a say. I'm not afraid of anyone. I didn't volunteer for my parents or for myself but for the country."
Call on teens to volunteer, contribute
Until the recent integration of Arabs into the national service program, several sectors were exempt from any kind of service, including religious women, ultra-orthodox men, and Arabs. While religious women were offered various volunteering courses in the framework of the national service, such alternatives were not available to the other sectors until recently.
Samar Awat, a 19-year-old resident of Mazra'a, has bee volunteering at his village's school in the last months as part of his national service. "I teach computers to children and assist the teacher."
Awat said that at first the reactions from his neighbors were negative, "but now they don't object to it anymore, because they also enjoy the help… I don't care what people say against the state, because this is my service."
He concluded by calling on the boys and girls of the Arab community to volunteer and "contribute to the state."