After a recent multi-stop visit to the South of Israel Judy Cohen Vice President accompanied by Frieda Ross Associate Director of World Emunah, wrote the following report.
Our first stop was at the multi-purpose Daycare Center in Kiryat Gat the Director was delightful, very welcoming and informative. The center is located in a low socio-economic neighborhood and although the building is old, as usual for an Emunah project, it was spotless, the staff impress with their love of the children, and the calm way they handle them. The center cares for 90 children from the ages of 3 months to 3 years. In addition, close to 20 first grade children come to the center after school for lunch and afternoon activities. We noted that despite the obvious age of the center, it looks bright and welcoming. We were happy to hear that registration for next year is full.
Then to the Emunah Neve Landy Children's Village, where we met with Pazit, the head social worker and Shoham the educational director. Pazit gave a very good explanation of the setup, the boys, the therapies, the needs and the dreams for the future. We toured the campus and met a number of boys who were packing up to go home for the month of August. We went into the houses and saw how the kitchen although small, is able to cater for children and staff alike. Among the many dreams for the future, we heard the wish to build another storey onto the therapy wing, to increase the number of rooms needed for therapies and the wish to have a much bigger hall for eating, davening, and a space for holding events together. Pazit would like to see the petting zoo and greenhouse areas increased, a fully equipped music room and, of course, to have a cover over the sports field.
We talked about the change of policy of the Ministry of Welfare who believe that younger children should live with foster parents and not enter residential care until they are older. Pazit feels this is a mistake as the kind of environment they experience in Neve Landy is far more stabilizing and allows the boys to build much better relationships in a secure and loving environment, which can cater for all the therapies in one place.
We then went to visit the two Batei Bogrim and were very impressed by both and the idea behind their establishment. Here the boys have the opportunity to live together in a different environment from Neve Landy but with all the backup and support.
Then onto The Ronson Crisis and Intervention Center in Sderot. Director, Tammy Beck was great. She is so very calm and we commented that the building is an oasis of complete tranquility which is palpable. She explained everything that goes on in that very small space and how vital their work is for the community of Sderot and from the surrounding areas. We then visited the site of the proposed new Center. It is a very large plot and with the help of the plans one can see what a wonderful project will emerge. It is in the middle of an area of Sderot, which is being developed.
We finished the day by going up to the Black Arrow monument and looking down onto Gaza and the area around it. We saw some burnt fields and a plume of smoke near Gaza. Otherwise, total quiet and very sobering to see how very close the area is to Sderot and the coastal strip. We also saw a TV crew, cameras set up, waiting for action!! Otherwise deserted!