SOS Children in Israel
At present we are particularly seeking supporters for a social centre in Beit Zarzir - this is an after-school programme designed for 20 children ages 6-12, from the Bedouin village of Beit Zarzir, which will provide tutoring, activities, therapeutic interventions where needed, and a hot meal for all the children. It is a joint project with the Ministry of Social Welfare and is scheduled to open very shortly. It will serve as a model for planned future centres in other villages of minority populations in Israel.
Over the last 10 years the social welfare structure in Israel has been slowly dismantled. The results are that, according to government statistics, more than a quarter of the children in Israel are currently living under the poverty line. The numbers of food handouts and soup kitchens are increasing, to cushion the effects on the poorest members of society, but many families are finding it difficult to care for their children. The resultant increase in domestic violence and abuse has created an even greater need for our children’s villages as well as community based projects for the children and the youth of Israel.
Our children, who range in age from 6-18, are referred to us by social welfare services from all over Israel after being declared children at risk. Many are placed in our villages under court order. Some of them are orphans. Most have biological families that they see regularly.
The charity's first project in Israel, the SOS Children's Village in Neradim, opened in 1981 on the outskirts of the pioneer town of Arad in the middle of the Negev Desert. The land, which lies close to the Dead Sea, was donated by the Israeli government. The village has 12 two-storey family houses and a community house with a large hall. In addition, a youth house was opened in 1988, providing a home for up to 14 teenage boys. This house gives the boys the chance to take their first steps towards independence. SOS Children also provides vocational training workshops for the teenagers. The children from the village attend the local schools and nurseries and there are full medical facilities nearby.
In 1997 the charity opened its second village in Migdal Haemek, in northern Israel, near the Biblical town of Nazareth. The official opening ceremony was carried out by the then state President Ezer Weizmann. The village consists of ten family houses, which provide homes for 80 children. Good educational, medical and sports facilities are all available within easy reach of the village.
In January 2005, SOS Social Centres were opened in both Arad and Migdal Haemek. They run day-care centres and various community outreach programmes to support vulnerable families. Up to 40 children from the local community can be looked after at the day-care centres. Community outreach programmes include counselling for women, information on how to prevent the spread of certain diseases, and help with the financing of micro-enterprises.
At present we support over 300 people in Israel through two SOS Children’s Villages, three SOS Youth Homes, and two SOS Social Centres.
Before Max left SOS Children’s Village Neradim to go and begin his adult life, he gave a talk to the children and mothers about his time at the Village: “Due to circumstances at home, I arrived at the village 15 years ago, when I was only 3 ½ years old, together with my three older sisters. I can say that my personality was developed at the SOS Children's Village. This was due to the care and love of the SOS mothers and where I learnt the difference between right and wrong. They strengthened my ambitions to succeed in life and to find the meaning of life; to find myself a new way instead of leaning on the past. Since I was a young child I understood that the village is the only place in which I can feel safe and free, feelings which I did not experience in my own home. I would like to thank my village family who brought me to where and what I am today, and to my three sisters who always worried about me and gave as much as they could and never turned their back to me."
Israeli Society for SOS Children's Villages
Krinizy Street 112/21
Ramat Gan 52601
Tel +972/3/613 2438
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