Personal Story: Eliyahu Habag
Eliyahu Habag is a client of JDC's Day Care Center for the Elderly in Merchavim, located less than 20 kilometers from Gaza. The Day Care Center offers a variety of welfare services, such as daily hot meals, medical assistance and counseling, as well as social activities, such as games, handicraft projects, singing and celebrations of the Jewish holidays.
Eliyahu says, "In this Day Care Center we are all like one family. We spend almost every day together, talking, playing, enjoying ourselves, we get wonderful hot meals here. We have an amazing and strong relationship with each other and with the great staff who work here."
Since the conflict began in early July, many clients of the Center have been too afraid to leave their homes for fear of rocket attacks. During this time, the Center became a safe haven for many clients, with the exception of the two weeks that it was closed at the order of the Home Front Command. During the closure, the Day Care Center provided services such as hot meal delivery and staff check-in with the elderly. Since the reopening, staff and volunteers continue to deliver warm meals every day to those elderly who are still too afraid to leave home—both to make sure that they are having at least one nutritious meal a day and also to check in on them to see how they are doing.
Eliyahu is one client who finds solace in the Day Care Center, "After several days, I realized that I could not stay at home anymore, it drives me crazy. So I forced myself to go out and to come to our Day Care Center. I feel much better here. I don't have a secure room in my house because the building was built before all these rocket attacks started. I have nowhere to go when I hear a siren, so I just lean against one of the interior walls in the house and start to pray."
Where Eliyahu and thousands of other elderly Israelis live, the tzeva adom siren ("code red") sounds dozens of times a day. Many clients, just like Eliyahu, do not have access to a safe space which they can reach within the 45 seconds from the time the siren sounds. JDC and the Day Care Center for the Elderly will continue to provide emergency assistance, such as food, counseling and comfort to these elderly Israelis both during the ongoing crisis and in the aftermath, as they begin the return to routine.
Eliyahu admits that this summer is one of the toughest he remembers, but without the Day Care Center, it could have become a total disaster for him.