Nov 21, 2012  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Special Needs,

LOTEM - Special activities for those with special needs

Dear all,

I wanted to update you on the amazing activities enjoyed today by residents of southern Israel and guided by LOTEM, thanks to our help from the JNF. 

Four groups of children, adolescents and adults from special-education backgrounds, residing in the South, went on outings guided by LOTEM staff, finally getting a chance to get away from the battle zone. 

Kedma Youth Village for boys and girls at risk, situated in the Yoav Regional Council, is home to adolescents aged 14-18, defined as ‘juvenile delinquents’. The youth village is the last stop before a penal institution, and provides the possibility of rehabilitation and return to the community. The youth village was closed a week ago, at the start of the battles. While the youth who have a home to return to went home, those whose families are defined by the administrative authority as “unable to contain or sustain the adolescents” were transferred to temporary residence at Neve Amiel Youth Village in the north of Israel.

Today, thanks to the JNF, we were able to take this group out on a day of repose at Nachal HaShofet and Emek HaShalom. The group hiked around the river, let off energy, enjoyed the open spaces, prepared pita bread over the bonfire at Emek HaShalom, and experienced a calm, fun day out at nature.

Beit Omer Hostel from Ashdod and Beit Gaya Hostel from Ashkelon also went out on a daytrip with LOTEM’s professional guides, in Jerusalem. These groups consisted of adolescent men and women, aged 12-18, who suffer mental disabilities and reside at the hostels due to their families’ inability to take proper care of them. The groups toured Nachla’ot neighborhood and Mishkenot Sha’ananim in Jerusalem, and enjoyed a relaxed day, accompanied by guiding well adapted to their needs.

Finally, a group of women and children from the Be’er Sheva battered women shelter go on an outing. This group consisted of twenty women, along with their children, aged 3-12, who took refuge at the shelter from personal experiences of violent homes – only to encounter statewide violence and tension. These women craved to get away from the cramped shelters for a day of repose, and today toured Canada Park and Ein Hemed Park, enjoying every minute of tranquility at nature. 

Next week three more groups will participate in repose activities. I’ll be sure to send more pictures and updates as the week progresses. 

In addition, it’s important for me to share that following JNF’s engagement in the program, other organizations, in Israel and abroad, also joined in assisting and funding our project. These include private donors, lending their time and volunteering to accompany the tours as escorts, bus companies that donated transport days, a catering company that donated refreshments, and the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, that donated four more days of activity for “the day after the war ends”.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Alon Badihi who helped us to get the funding to this project and each and every one of you for your help and support to LOTEM, in these difficult days. We are proud to help the special populations of southern Israel however much we can. 

Hoping for continued peace and quiet, throughout the country,

Rotem and the entire LOTEM team.