Volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

Do you want to make a difference on your holiday? Not interested in ‘fluffy’ volunteering with baby elephants and turtles which costs a lot and sounds nice but makes very little difference? Well let me suggest Volunteering in Palestine with the Four Homes of Mercy, a unique opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.


Volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

The Four Homes of Mercy in Bethany (previously part of Jerusalem but now in the West Bank due to the Separation Wall) was established in 1940 as an independent charitable organization helping ‘the poorest of poor’ – residents are physically and neurologically challenged –  irrespective of their wealth, needs, gender, race, age or religion. The goal was to maintain residents competences to enable them to enjoy a decent and respectful quality of life. Today, this hasn’t changed but sadly the situation in the West Bank has.

Times are tough here today, arguably tougher than they ever have been and the Four Homes of Mercy desperately needs volunteers who can help improve the quality of life of the residents, many of whom live with several disabilities. The staff here are amazing! Hard workers, they know how to have a laugh and deal with the unexpected – volunteers would ideally would be as well!

Volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

While knowing that the volunteer work you are doing is truly making a difference, your time in the West Bank will also offer you a unique chance to really understand the heartbreaking reality of life here under the Israeli occupation. People often respond with shock and disbelief when I talk about my time in the West Bank, but trust me – you will find incredibly welcoming and friendly people here! At no point, even catching taxis, buses or walking down the street at night, was I concerned for my safety at… not once! It’s not at all like you’d  imagine and this is why it’s so crucial to come here and see it for yourself.

If you don’t have enough time for volunteering in Palestine this time I still recommend you try to understand the reality of living here … You can read about my Bethlehem Travels here or talk to Visit Palestine for in-depth, local tours to off-the-beaten track destinations to really see and fee what is happening to this beautiful country.

I came to visit the Four Homes of Mercy because my step mum was volunteering in Palestine here many years ago. I had seen photos and heard stories and wanted to see it for myself. Today it is very different, Bethany is no longer a part of Jerusalem – separated by a giant wall, cut off. It’s more built up than in the photos I’d seen, but the home is still there, doing the same incredible work they have done for over 75 years! One of the children my step-mum worked with during her time here has grown up and works here today. He remembered his childhood fondly and the volunteers, even remembering my step-mum!

Volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

On my visit to the Four Homes of Mercy, I spoke to many of the resident staff there to find out what was needed to volunteer in an environment like this:

The key is flexibility, compassion, empathy, and unfailing sense of humour! Respect for the ideas and practices of others, whose ways of viewing and doing things are different from one’s own; the clear commitment that one is coming to serve people, not change them.

One of my main concerns about volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy would be that I did not have the necessary skills. To make sure I really was of help more than a hindrance. Again I asked about what sort of assignments a volunteer could be expected to complete and what skills would be useful:

   “Assignments” would be determined by a volunteer’s interests and skills, and the Homes’ director. We’ve had volunteers tackle painting, gardening and organization projects. Others have enriched the lives of our residents (and staff) by utilizing their musical abilities—someone with a guitar, for instance, could be a wandering troubadour for all the units. Others have coaxed smiles by giving gentle massages and one-on-one attention to some of our more impaired people. Others have helped some of our people with games—we would love a bocce ball coach since we’ve Palestine’s only court, eager residents, but no one with the time and skill to coach them. Other volunteers might help with ‘transport’–pushing wheelchairs so our residents could enjoy different parts of the garden, accompanying them on trips outside the Homes …. We’d be grateful to have volunteers who could work on developing materials for fundraising—increasing our web presence, taking pictures of our residents who love to have their rooms adorned with pictures of themselves….. If someone has specialized skills in special education, and/or autism, and/or working with the blind, we’d love help in developing our program. Also, a licensed psychologist with experience in special needs to assist in diagnosing some of our people…..

So really, absolutely anyone with a pair of helping hands and a smile has more than enough skills to be of help somewhere. There’s a task that can be found for any skill set or for however involved you’d  like to be.

Volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

Finally I was wondering how long I would need to volunteer for, as I know many people have very different time schedules and limited amounts of leave from work or perhaps the opposite and would like to stay somewhere a bit longer:

     “Working hours—length of stay, etc” again would depend on the volunteers. We’ve had groups come for a week, or less, to tackle a specific project—such as digging out and organizing a storeroom so it could be transformed into a workroom, or painting rooms. Our longest volunteer, an American who has now been here 5 months, working (and making a huge difference!!) in the children’s section four days each week.. Again, the time commitment would depend on the volunteers and is flexible.

Support in any way, be it big or small, all is welcome. The staff and residents are more than happy with whatever is a possibility. I am sure however you will find volunteering in Palestine so rewarding you wish to volunteer as much of your time as possible!

olunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

As far as accommodation and other arrangements go, that would typically depend on the age and gender of the volunteer—a single person, a couple, more? Volunteering in Palestine requires flexibility and this works  both ways at the Four Homes of Mercy. I was completely inspired by my visit here, and would love the opportunity to volunteer here and am actively looking to see when I can do it! If you are still a bit concerned I recommend you read about whether American’s really are in danger in the West Bank.

I hope if you are researching potential volunteering opportunities you consider the Four Homes of Mercy as I truly believe volunteering in Palestine would be one of the best ways to make a significant and tangible change in the world. Please feel free to get in contact with me below with any questions or details, or please contact Four Homes of Mercy directly to arrange your volunteer activity! Please also feel free to like their Facebook page …which is where all the photo’s in this post come from as I did not feel it appropriate to take my own!

Volunteering in Palestine at the Four Homes of Mercy

Like it? Why not pin it for others to see and hear about this amazing opportunity!

Comments (19)
  1. anna October 8, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    What an amazing thing to do! Your step mum must have loved the fact that you were volunteering there too.

  2. danik the explorer October 8, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    An interesting read and a great post 🙂

  3. Miranda October 10, 2016 at 1:18 am

    This is such a great post – one of my all time favourite travel blog posts of all time in fact. That’s so sweet that you followed in your step-mum’s footsteps to volunteer there. Thanks for writing this 🙂

  4. Lisa October 10, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Although I disagree with belief that it is ‘Israeli Occupation” I do think helping people is what humanity is all about. Your volunteering is admirable.

    • Jordan Adkins - Inspired By Maps October 10, 2016 at 2:42 am

      I tried to make this apolitical as it is about helping people as you said 🙂 – But I find it hard to see how it is not occupied after travelling there … Obviously you had a different experience when you travelled here and I respect that – safe travels!

  5. Carmen's Luxury Travel October 10, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Volunteering abroad is so incredible and rewarding! Thanks for sharing this one. Happy travels 🙂

  6. Daisy J. Crawford October 10, 2016 at 2:39 am

    You are such a brave and awesome person! I had a friend who was a volunteer in Palestine, but due to the severity of the politics there, she had to leave. I’d love to help out there or at least contribute money to these people who need it most.

  7. Christine | The Traveloguer October 10, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve wanted to go to Palestine for such a long time, I think it’s so important for people to go to see what life is like under the occupation. Looking forward to reading more about your time there!

  8. Elisa October 11, 2016 at 12:33 am

    Beautiful post, jordan! Hope you will find the way to volunteer there one day 🙂

  9. Yenor October 11, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Well this is something I’ve never read on a blog before. What a great thing you have gone and done and don’t the Palestinians need some extra care right now! Great post, good stuff!

  10. Nancy October 11, 2016 at 6:03 am

    We just don’t have enough volunteers in the world. It’s nice you are helping out where you can.

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