“GIMME A K!”
“GIMME AN E!”
“GIMME A Z!”
“WHAT DOES THAT SPELL?”
“KEZ!” A room full of Kindergarteners stand and cheer for Kezia Furth, the school nurse at The Rashi School, a private Reform Jewish school in the Boston area.
Kezia, or Kez, as the students call her, can usually be found in the health office but on Thursday, March 7, she was presenting to students about Klinik Jubilee, a health clinic that she helped to open and run in the 8 years she spent living in Haiti. Klinik Jubilee is one of the four honored organizations chosen for the 2019 Rashi Purim Tamchui Project and because of it, Rashi’s school nurse has become a school hero.
The Rashi Purim Tamchui Project has been one of the cornerstones of the social justice curriculum at The Rashi School for more than two decades. The project educates young children not just about issues that children just like them face all around the world; the project proves to young children that they have the power to make a difference in the world if they work hard and want to fix it.
During Tamchui, Rashi invites representatives from the honored organizations to model for students a few key lessons.
First, representatives provide an in-depth behind-the-scenes perspective into the work that they do. Their intimate knowledge of the issues and methods to resolve them models the vision, persistence, and resilience required to achieve great things in the world.
Second, representatives provide a concrete example that students can reference while they continue their study of an organization. Students can relate back to a physical person sharing stories about other people or events to crystallize their understanding of an issue and reflect back upon when making their decisions when allocating their portion of the Rashi Purim Tamchui Fund.
Finally, meeting with a representative from an organization models to students that real, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Not only do students meet a person they can relate to, they learn about the partnerships and teamwork that are necessary to make positive change on a large scale.
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons students remember during Rashi Purim Tamchui is when someone familiar, like their school nurse, reveals that they, too, stood up and made a difference in the world.
“Growing up, I knew that I wanted to help people,” Kez recalled in her presentation to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. “There’s something really satisfying about having a person come into your clinic with something wrong with them and being able to physically repair that problem in that moment.” She explained that while it was important to her to become a nurse, she wanted to practice nursing in a place where her work would do the most good. “We have access to such good health care here in the United States. So, I went to work in an orphanage in Haiti and I fell in love with the country.”
It was when she met a woman named Claire that she had the idea to open a clinic in Jubilee, a community in Gonaïves, Haiti. “Claire and I were a great team. She had all of these great ideas and I had expertise.” Focusing on dignity, respect, and sustainability, Kezia and Claire began teaching and hiring locals from Jubilee to work in the clinic.
“Some people will say, ‘there is nothing good in Jubilee.’ But then they are able to come here, and they say, ‘Wow. This is different.'”-Oscar Dieuson, Clinic Medical Director, Klinik Jubilee
By sharing the work that she has done in Jubilee with our students, she shared the humanity of the people living in one of the poorest neighborhoods there and she shared a window into her own humanity, as well.