Michelle Veit – English Teacher & Volunteer

Michelle Veit is originally from South Africa and now lives in Premiá de Mar. She currently works as an English Teacher and a volunteer in Barcelona.  She has always been drawn to helping others in need, both animals and humans.

When I was growing up we always had pets that were adopted from animal shelters or that needed to be re-homed for various reasons. My parents instilled in me the importance of never buying an animal when there were so many that needed homes already. I continued to adopt animals after I had left my parents’ house and when I was about 30, my husband and I fostered a few dogs over a period of about a year until we adopted one of the foster dogs.

When I first started university I was intending to study law, but then I took a psychology class and decided to switch to studying psychology. Whilst I was studying I volunteered as a counsellor for victims of domestic violence and when the centre closed I started volunteering as a telephonic and in-person counsellor at lifeline, a national centre for emotional and mental support. I also volunteered as a facilitator for the personal growth and counselling skills courses they provided.

After my undergraduate degree I did a postgraduate qualification in trauma counselling. For my internship I worked as a volunteer in a refugee organisation in Cape Town. There I counselled refugees from Africa who had experienced various traumas and I also co facilitated support groups for HIV positive refugees. In addition I worked with two refugee teenage girls who were living in an orphanage run by the organisation.

My husband and I moved to Barcelona  in 2014 when I was 3 months pregnant with our son. I started teaching English as a second language as it was the most viable option for me.

After a few years I wanted to start volunteering again. And then in 2022 I saw an advert on Facebook looking for volunteers to teach English to refugees or displaced people. The organisation was connexion creando puentes. I contacted them and found out they work with refugees, migrants and people living in difficult situations and provide assistance through language classes (English, Spanish, Catalan and German), Mathematics and science courses, as well as collaboration with other associations, art and painting workshops, crafts, stories, music, writing and more.

I started teaching my first student who was a Palestinian from Gaza living in Egypt. I then taught another Palestinian lady from Hebron in the west bank. And then in February last year I started to teach Diana who was a Palestinian living in Gaza. When I first met her she had just lost her father unexpectedly from a heart attack and she was the eldest of 8 siblings and had to support them. We had to stop classes when the war started in Gaza.

I really enjoyed the classes with all 3 women and learned a lot about their country and culture and the struggles they were going through. They all wanted to learn English improve their situation and get jobs which would help them provide for their families.

I connected with Diana in particular because she is such a caring and intelligent person. She too has volunteered in her country helping in the children’s cancer ward and at various different NGOs. Also, the fact that we both had lost a parent when we were in our 20s gave us more in common.

After the war started I maintained contact with Diana and kept checking in with her to see if she and her family were ok. I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything for her from so far away. So I asked her if there was anything I could do. She asked if I could start a gofundme campaign to help raise money so that she and her family could safely evacuate from Gaza. So I researched it and started the fund. Unfortunately, because the family is 9 people and they need 5,000 dollars per person to pay the fee to cross the border from Rafah into Egypt, the amount they need to raise is quite substantial and we are struggling to meet the target.

I started thinking of other ways to raise the money. A few friends of mine and some other lovely ladies have joined forces to try to raise money for Diana and others in Gaza. We have had two charity markets already and managed to raise almost 1,000 euros. But we have plans to try to raise more money through auctions and other events.

To help Diana and her family escape Gaza please follow this link www.gofundme.com/f/Help-Diana-and-her-family-leave-Gaza

To help with the charity initiatives or donate items please contact Michelle via Whatsapp 663 67 64 32

Diana and her brother

Diana and family members

Diana’s neighbourhood