"He brings me food, collects prescriptions from the pharmacy and fixes things in the house, but he mostly just keeps me company," she says. "He expresses an interest in me, listens to me. The hours he spends here mean everything to me."
Mahdi, a refugee from Darfur, got acquainted with Holocaust survivors when he began working at a delicatessen in Kfar Shmaryahu.
"As part of my job, I would make deliveries, and that's when I found out that the owner, Shlomo Roded, regularly sends food to the survivors," he says. "Then, after watching a film about them on television, I decided to join an association for Holocaust survivors myself."
He has been active in the association for several months now. After losing several of his family members in war, he sees his work with the survivors as a real mission.
"Some of them are really suffering," he says. "Helping the survivors with the aid I can give them just makes them feel good. I hand out free food because of their financial distress, I clean their houses and fix things, and even give them a shower if needed, but for me it's nothing. The main thing is to devote some of time to help them."
Mahdi is calling on Israel's citizens to help needy Holocaust survivors as well. "If I, a refugee from Darfur, can help survivors – anyone can," he says.
He even suggests a way to make a donation. "I call on people from all across the world: My friends and I will clean your houses, and will donate the money we get for our work to the Association for Immediate Aid to Holocaust Survivors," he promises. "Anyone can help."
Chava is not surprised by Mahdi's initiative. "It's who he is, always willing to help," she says.
Must leave to pay back debts
When Mahdi speaks about his work in the association with a lot of pride, but now he is filled with sadness. Because of his dire financial situation, he must leave and find a job which will help him pay back his debts.
"I'm very sad that I have to leave the Holocaust survivors," Mahdi says. "I grew attached to them during my work, but I have no choice."
Fellow association members say Mahdi is leading a rough life himself. "It's amazing what a person like him, a Darfur refugee, is doing here for Holocaust survivors," says Julian Malach, Mahdi's friend and an activist in the association.
"He needs money himself, and we at the association have been trying for months to look for ways to help him. Unfortunately, if a solution isn't found he won't be able to continue." "Unfortunately, he is in a lot of debt, because he took some loans to help his family abroad," adds Tamar Mor, director of the Association for Immediate Aid to Holocaust Survivors. "He must leave us to search for work in order to pay back his debts."
To make a donation to the Association for Immediate Aid to Holocaust Survivors dial 972-3-5257888.