In the outback’s of the desolate landscape of Ukraine, staff members for this upcoming summer at Camp Yeka Girls bumped across the country’s broken roads and highways.
Covering 13 cities and reaching over 1200 children of all ages, the counsellors set out to bring the joy and education of the Tzivos Hashem Model Matzah Bakery to as far as they can reach. In just 8 days, they covered over 4600 kilometres and performing 27 times to avid audiences. Whether in schools, shuls, community centres, kindergartens or dining rooms the flour and water mixed together to make a dough worthy of matzah and telling the important and rich story of yetzias mitzrayim.
“Our goal is to reach as many kids as we can so we can enrol them in summer camp and give them what they need. Obviously if we are travelling around we want to teach about whichever yom tov or important inyan is going on. Right now it’s Pesach and therefore matzah,” says Hindy Golomb, co-director of Camp Yeka Girls.
In every city, past campers gathered around their counselors singing camp songs and bringing back warm, camp memories. It is noticeable that for these girls the presence of the staff is a reminder of their “Yeka home” and as they ask incessantly for details of the upcoming summer it is clear how much Camp Yeka means to them.
Another staff member, Sheva Rivkin tells, “The shluchim are absolutely unbelievable. What they do all year round in this backwards country must be applauded. Whether the big cities with hundreds of kids or the tiniest village where we had 4 little children – we can only do what we do with their help and since the majority of our kids get sent to us via the shluchim it is definitely our honour to work with them.
Camp Yeka Girls runs a summer and winter camp for orphaned and under-privileged children across Ukraine. Their motto is ‘#yeka4eva’, the impact on a childs life from even one summer cannot be described and with the right amount of love and education these girls can build a new future leaving their bleak past behind.
The Model Matzah Bakery was a huge hit with every child, and, any adult who joined in, walking away with a dot of flour on their nose, a steaming hot matzah and a great big smile. The stress of the huge 18-minute timer really added to the authenticity of the matzah making and of course candies were given out as the children were entertained by a real live “Moshe” and “Pharoah”.
Co-director Menucha Matusof says, “We always work together with Rabbi Yossi Glick, the director of Tzivos Hashem of Ukraine and this is our main project for him. It’s our second year doing the Matzah bakery and we have covered more ground and met new cities. The highlight is walking into our next location and a whole crowd of children run over to us in excitement. Some know us from camp, some became friends online and now we have a fan club through the Matzah bakery.”
Once again the terrific staff at Camp Yeka Girls have left their mark in the hearts and minds of Ukrainian Jewry, albeit this time it’s a giant floury print.
Fundraising for summer has already begun – check it out at yeka.rallybound.com