TEL-AVIV – After the summer camps in Palestine, the trip to Rome for the winners of the Holy Bible competition in Nazareth and the musical “Ruth” for the Saint James Vicariate, it’s the turn of the Vicariate for Migrants and Asylum Seekers (VMAS) to mark summer 2022 with the graduation ceremony of its daycare centers.
30. That’s how many children – all from the nine daycare centers of the Vicariate located in Tel-Aviv – graduated this year, out of 63. Too old to return to the centers in September (which welcome toddlers between three months old to three years old), they said goodbye to the staff and the sisters who took care of them during the past few years.
“This is one of our first graduation ceremonies since COVID-19,” explains Sr. Anusha, in charge of all the daycare centers. “This event is very important for families, because it allows the children to spend one last moment with their teachers, and gives their parents the opportunity to have an overview of the year and to share some quality-time with their child. Relationship with parents in a school or preschool environment an important aspect of a child’s development, which is why we organize other events allowing parents to come to the centers; during Christmas, for instance, we have a big party for all the children; and we also have a parents-kids day every year.”
During the ceremony, the children watched a video featuring pictures of the activities they enjoyed during the year, listened to a story told by one of the staff members of UNITAF, an Israeli NGO that works hand in hand with the VMAS to manage the daycare centers, took one last dancing lesson with their teachers, and finally received the medal and degree that marked their graduation and the end of their time in the daycare centers.
“Today all the children come from all our communities; Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Ghana, the Philippines, India… Some have been with us since they were three or four months old, while others joined later,” tells Sr. Anusha, after delivering a thanksgiving speech for all those who contributed to making the centers lively and welcoming places for toddlers.
Tomorrow, the daycare centers will close for two weeks, and reopen by the end of August to welcome the younger children as well as the newcomers replacing this year’s graduates. “Although they will no longer be with us because they’ve grown up, all of you will always be welcome here in our church and in our pastoral centers,” said Fr. Nikodemus Schnabel, OSB, Patriarchal Vicar for Migrants and Asylum Seekers, during the speech that concluded the ceremony. “Please do not forget this place, as we will never forget you, and remember that it will always be your home.”
After receiving their awards, the children were able to share a meal together with their families and teachers, each food representing the countries and cultures of the communities present.