While we pray that this is the end of hostilities, JDC is prepared for any and all developments in the security situation. This past week, even before the current ceasefire, we saw a shift in our emergency assistance responses. After more than three weeks in shelters, the children, adults and volunteers are all worn out, and we are seeing less activity in the shelters. At the same time, the Home Front Command has slightly eased the restrictions around gatherings, etc., and, with people feeling more secure about traveling the roads and leaving home, there has been a rise in requests for respite activity.
To date, thanks to the ongoing support of JFNA, JDC has sent over 5,000 people on respites – elderly, adults with disabilities, families of children with special needs, children and youth at-risk and their families. These respites have provided a truly needed break for our clients, and we hear it over and over from them.
This week, JDC is beginning to send additional clients to respites, such as foster families and Bedouin elderly living in villages more than 40km from Gaza. Likewise, the professionals and volunteers who have spent the last month caring for the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable populations in the South are also beginning to head out for much-needed and well-deserved respites. JDC is grateful to JFNA for supporting our respite activities for clients, program participants and the dedicated staffs that have been on call 24/7 over the last month.
Beyond respites, critical trauma therapy and support is continuing through a variety of programs and platforms. For example, Bitachon.net, an online support platform for people with disabilities, provides a 24-hour support system for people with disabilities. This week, a woman with disabilities contacted the professional on-call, and shared her intense feelings of anxiety. The woman explained that she was unable to breath and was very scarred. After speaking with the woman for a few minutes, the professional recognized the need to have a trauma therapist speak to her, and referred her immediately to a trauma professional. The following day, the woman contacted the Bitachon.net professional to thank him, and to let him know that she is feeling much better after speaking, even for a short while, to the trauma therapist.
In addition, Better Together communities in the south are working hard to keep the children in their communities activated:
- A neighborhood in Kiryat Gat, is running an emergency summer camp for 40 children in partnership with students from the social service organization, Yedidim.
- See photos below from shelter activities in a community center in Ashkelon, where children wrote letters to soldiers and a volunteer worked with the children to keep them occupied. The children enjoyed these activities very much and one mother even dared to say it might be the most fun her children have had this summer.