Alisa Bodner shares this blog written by the first employee with special needs that LOTEM, an Israeli agency making nature accessible for all people, has hired.

My name is Amichay Turgeman. I am 27 years old. I am just completing my first year working with LOTEM.

My position in the organization is to run the logistics of the nature workshops on LOTEM’s ecological farm in Emek HaShalom.

What this means is, for example, during the wine pressing workshop, I prepare the white aprons and the grapes in the gathering area so that everything will be ready when the group arrives and I also wash the winepress after the activity.

It also means to help the guides with anything they need help with so that they can instruct.

What is so special about this? The organization has dedicated itself to making nature accessible to people with special needs in an accessible and appropriate way to each group as it is!

Then suddenly somebody comes to the organization from that world. Not for the purpose of being guided but to work.

Even though the organization has experience making nature accessible and guiding people with special needs on the whole spectrum, this was the first time that they were employing a person like this.

As of today, I work twice a week on its ecological farm in Emek HaShalom. For me this is a place of work where even though it is the first time that they hired me with everything that I am, they took it upon themselves to be prepared for mutual learning, me from them and them from me.

LOTEM for me is perfect patience – you gain more responsibility.

LOTEM for me is to understand that even the number two person has purpose because if the chief does not have helpers than he cannot be called a manager or the one in charge.

LOTEM for me is that it is excellent if you lift your head but wait, ask first if the task is necessary or you might do double work!

LOTEM for me is another paving of the way because at age 18 I chose to act not like all my other friends and left my special needs school to live in a commune with five other young adults that society considers the norm.

LOTEM for me is to sit with the new group of soldier guides and to tell them what helping them means to me. To tell them a bit about my life story.

LOTEM for me is a world of work in the most advanced way towards success and achievements.

LOTEM for me is we believe in your abilities and desires to advance but patience, slowly slowly …

LOTEM for me is to understand that guiding people with special needs is difficult and that a group of people can cause even the most experienced guide to lose it.

LOTEM for me is the office staff that was ready for this integration.

LOTEM for me is to go from working a short work day until 1:30 to a long work day until 4:30.

LOTEM for me is to speak in front of bus drivers from the Dan Bus Company for a training with us on making their service accessible to me and other people with special needs.

LOTEM for me is to work twice a week and not to attack everything at once because everything has its time.

LOTEM for me is to rise early in the morning and like many people to work until the afternoon.

LOTEM for me is exercise because through my work I became stronger.

LOTEM for me is at the gathering of all the past staff of the organization on Sukkot, to tell everybody that I am here in the organization and that I am here to stay.

The proof to this is that a year has passed since I arrived at LOTEM and I am not going anywhere!