Respites for People with Disabilities
Last week, 30 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities departed from their homes in Even Shmuel (a small community just South of Kiryat Gat) and traveled to the Dead- Sea for a JDC sponsored respite. The participants expressed their deep appreciation for the restful break and explained that " the respite provided rejuvenation and an opportunity to 'recharge our batteries'". See below for some pictures at the respite.
Examples of planned respites:
- Today (Thursday), 44 people with disabilities from the "Accessible Community" program in Ashkelon will travel to Tiberias for a 3-day respite.
- On Sunday, 35 people with disabilities from Ashdod will travel to Jerusalem for a day to see the city. Organized by an NGO that runs accessible tours of Jerusalem for people with disabilities, the group will spend the day seeing the cultural historical and religious sites including visiting the Nachlaot neighborhood and Machane Yehuda (Jerusalem's outdoor market), the Kotel and other places in the Old City.
The Centers for Young Adults continue to serve as an effective platform around the country in reaching out to the most vulnerable citizens. The following story provides a short description of this:
On a normal day, the Center for Young Adults (CYA) in Ofakim is lively, bustling with activity and young people availing themselves of a range of important services advice and counseling ranging from the fields of higher education and employment to social activity and community service that will help shape their future.
But for a month, Ofakim has been under constant attack by Hamas rockets and mortars. "People stopped coming into the Center and making appointments, and meetings were canceled because people needed to stay 15 seconds from their shelters," explained David, the New Immigrant Coordinator at the CYA.
The Center quickly shifted into emergency mode, redirecting efforts towards strengthening the residents of the community who were living in bomb shelters. "We mobilized young activist groups through the Center to help our community," said David.
In full cooperation with the local municipality, community centers, and other NGOs, the CYA began coordinating relief and support to the public shelters in Ofakim. Volunteers brought JDC-supplied activity kits including arts and crafts, books, and games and are offering performances, workshops, and other sessions to distract residents from the constant barrage of rockets.
Because Ofakim is home to many immigrants, David took great care to mobilize his Bukhari-, Kavkazi-, and Ethiopian-Israeli activists to the shelters to communicate with locals who do not speak Hebrew.
David¹s own family is benefiting from the Center's volunteer activities. As he is moving around the city with community activists, his four children are among the countless thousands of Israelis confined to their homes, waiting and listening for the next siren.
"My kids are participating in activities and events run through the CYA, and thanks to the Center are actually having fun with other kids in the neighborhood doing activities, playing games, and forgetting about the situation for a moment. It really helps them."
David¹s message to the Jewish Federations of North America: Thank you for everything you have done for us, and for your invaluable support of all of us in the South of Israel.