Grace Yao Adjoua, Director of the Hatikva day-care center, responsible for six workers and 60 children.
“I arrived in Israel from the Ivory Coast 16 years ago. I came as a tourist but could not go back to my country because of the war that was there. I then applied to the government to seek help from them. My daughter is still there, and it is very difficult for me to be so far from her. She is 18 years old today.
After I got to Israel, I was very sick and needed to go to the hospital. I had to struggle financially and it was very difficult for me to buy the medicine I needed. I was working at cleaning and also in a “baby sitter apartment” for a short period of time.
Eight years ago, I started to work for Unitaf. I started as an assistant kindergarten teacher and today I am the director. I am so happy that I met Unitaf because it made me stronger. I love working with the kids. Because I am far away from my daughter, I find comfort in taking care of the children. When I am with them, it is like I’m with her. That is why I have decided to put all my spirit, soul and energy in it.
Here it is not like in the other places. The atmosphere is good and very professional. It is a very special place because we have people from all over the world and everyone speaks a different language. Parents are also dealing with many challenges because they are foreigners here. It is very challenging to communicate, but whenever we have a problem, one of the other parents assists us in translating. It is also difficult when parents have to leave the country. Sometimes the police catch them outside and I bring them their children and they need to leave. We have an agreement with the police that they don’t come inside, so they do not create a trauma for the children. It is the most difficult thing when you know a child for such a long time and in the wink of an eye he disappears. We take care of all the children regardless of their status. For us, there is no other option.
Unitaf is like a family. We talk and share our feelings and I encourage my staff – they also made a long journey to come here. The women are good friends. I feel proud that parents let us to take care of the most important things in their lives, their children. And I am proud because the work we do is very important, because these are the first steps of the children in the world. And they deserve the best start possible.”