Ivana Puleo is an acclaimed photographer from Rome, Italy, who travels all over the world for work and pleasure. Camera in hand, she strives to document the world around her.
Meir Panim is grateful that Ivana has visited Israel twice already in order to volunteer her talents through photographing the staff, volunteers and clients at our Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens.
We sat down during her recent visit to learn more about her motivations and her perspective on our work. Ivana discovered Meir Panim a couple of years ago when she felt a calling to come back to Jerusalem for a vacation – but wanted to give back and not just visit as a tourist. She was going through a difficult time in her personal life, and planned to travel solo with the goal of using her skills to help an organization. She found Meir Panim through an internet search and was touched by our mission. She visited three of our Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens and had the opportunity to fully immerse herself in our work, our culture and our people – both staff members and clients.
Ivana’s favorite subject to photograph is people, and she has a knack for capturing their essence and the spirit of their expressions. She did this so beautifully during her first visit that we were thrilled she was able to return this fall. Between visits to our Dimona and Jerusalem Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens, Ivana made sure to schedule in time to spend strolling the cities’ streets. She commented that she would advise first-time visitors to always leave “wandering time” in their itineraries – to “take in the place and city, and try to imagine your life if you lived there, in other people’s shoes.”
As a Christian, Ivana grew up reading about religious leaders in the New and Old Testaments and now feels as though these figures are a part of her extended family. In Israel she feels at home and notes that she feels the Bible and its stories coming alive. Ivana explains that she keeps returning to Israel because not doing so would be like having an old friend and not going to visit them.
After her many visits to Israel, Ivana has learned a lot about the Jewish community and admires the way she sees Jews taking care of each other; she says this moves her to be reminded every day that people need to care for others in order to make the world stronger. She believes that poverty has no religion nor does love; and that all the differences humans have accumulated over the centuries, like languages and skin colors, have pushed us apart. Ivana is now working toward bringing humans of different backgrounds closer and hopes to see this change happening in the coming years.
Meir Panim is humbled by Ivana’s visits, and we happily await her return! She is truly an inspiration for each of us to use our talents for good – which can motivate us all.