On 7th of October the war broke out in Israel. On 18th of October 2023 we quite unexpectedly started a process of registering a Jerusalem based NGO (Amuta). We provide material aid, interactive leisure and emotional support to the refugees from the south region of Israel and the evacuees from the North. We started this project with our own money but now our budget is coming to its end and we call for donations.
Prefer using PayPal?
Today we are an amuta (NGO) Beinechem Uveinehem, which means “between you and them”. We have a group of 30 volunteers who first of all talk to the refugees and the evacuees face to face. Our first conversations with them are usually at least half an hour long, but could be much much longer. We talk in depth and we listen carefully. We provide to them the missing material necessities; fulfill small or urgent requests that do not require education in social work or psychology (like buying something for them, babysitting, hairdressing and so on). We make them feel listened to, make them feel cared for, make them feel safer.
We don’t do therapy. In the cases in which we see the obvious (and not so obvious) need in a social worker or therapist we’re trying to connect people with the city professionals, although there are not a lot of them. The scarcity of social workers in Jerusalem is too great to stay aside. Even before the war we had an 8 – 12 month waiting list for social workers and now we have more than 40,000 evacuees in the city who are mostly elderly, disabled, traumatized people and single parents with 3 to 8 of their children many of whom are special needs. We can’t stop our work and we can’t not grow our presence (it happens somewhat uncontrollably).
We have refugees from Beeri and Ofakim, whose villages were basically destroyed in the initial attack on 7th of October and who witnessed unimaginable atrocities. We have elderly from Sderot (the biggest town near the border) who were forgotten in their homes, hiding in the basements and came to Jerusalem only a week ago. We have a huge population of evacuees from the North that the government evacuated often against their will to create a 5 kilometer buffer zone.
There are a lot of people who don’t trust government officials now, or feel ashamed of their problems, or don’t want to stress out people who they see are working hard enough already. Many of them simply don’t tell anyone that they need or want something. Most of the elderly can’t leave the premises of the hotel or even their rooms due to physical disability or anxiety. Many of the single mothers don’t have time to leave the hotels since many children are still not in the school system. Talking to them, listening to them, and making them feel safe requires trust building and a human-to-human kind of communication, not a professional-client one.
Everything we can do by ourselves, that doesn’t require the specific education and license we do as volunteers. But there are many things that we have to buy: different types of hygiene necessities, some very small and non-expansive beauty products, elastic bondages, good second hand clothes, trips to the city, and other small things that are not only necessary and sometimes vital but also bring back to those evacuees, who can’t leave the premises of the hotel at least some level of autonomy and choice. That makes lost and desperate people feel listened to and cared for. That makes each person feel like a person and not like one of thousands of lines in the sheet.
We provided many hundreds of moisturizer creams, knee pads, headphones, and so own; found donors to fulfill around 40 bigger and more specific request, mostly medical; babysitted 140 hours with the special needs children and 190 hours with the regular ones, organized 5 yoga classes for elderly, 14 lectures, 3 poetry evenings and one birthday party. We were 3 times in the emergency room with people who simply didn’t tell anyone before we talked to them about their medical emergency. Basically we try to patch the small holes left by city officials and bigger NGOs.
Material aid is the easiest part of our work, but unfortunately it’s impossible without a budget. We started this project with our own money but considering the size of the project now we can’t continue to help people with our own savings.
That being said, it doesn’t mean that our volunteers don’t need training. They do, but it should be tailored to the ethnic and religious differences of both volunteers and refugees. It should include “primary social work”, trauma responses and personal boundaries. These volunteers need supervision. They are often expected to talk about some very heavy topics. They see how these people are provided only with the most basic necessities and slowly term the stone in their rooms. They see that different groups get different treatment.
And it starts! This Thursday we have the first meeting of the already-in-the-field volunteers with the very experienced social worker from the Israeli Trauma Coalition. We will have 4 of these meetings and then we will be able to model a more structured training based on their questions and responses. At the moment specialists who write training programs and provide the training itself are doing it as volunteers but it can’t go on like this forever.
We don’t think this war will end shortly. And even if it will, we’re going to feel its societal and economic consequences for many years to come. The war in Ukraine is still going on. Sudan, Ethiopia and countless other countries are on fire. We see refugees and we see intentional and unintentional dehumanizing everywhere. We do believe that we can and should grow. And we believe that human connection has always played a key role in preventing future conflicts. We believe that any human being has the right to feel as a human being and we don’t really believe in the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: no one can provide shelter and stability for everyone in need in the nearest future, but it doesn’t mean that we have to deprive people of their humanity.
Prefer using PayPal?
Center Makor is acting as a fiscal agent to raise funds to provide aid to the refugees from the south region of Israel.
All your donations are tax-deductible.