Yesterday I participated in a national conference call with our overseas partners who are on the front lines of the crisis in Israel. On the call were professionals from JAFI, JDC, Israel Trauma Coalition, Masorti Movement, Reform Movement, World ORT, Ethiopian National Project (ENP) and JFNA and they gave us many of the specifics of the services they are providing on the ground. Here is some of what I learned.
Children, the [frail] elderly and individuals with special needs are the three populations that are receiving the greatest attention. All told, over 25,000 children have been and are being transported to Northern and Central Israel for a 1-3 day respite stays. I initially was concerned that services were being duplicated because most of these agencies appear to be providing the same service. But as I listened to their presentations, it became obvious that each serves a distinct population, so between them all, greater numbers are being reached. For example, ENP has a program called SPACE that throughout Israel works with Ethiopian teens and pre-teens providing them with after school programming, tutoring and a hot meal. These are the 375 children from the South that ENP has helped so far. World ORT supports several schools in Southern Israel, and these are the kids that they are providing the respite trips for.
JDC is providing assistance to the elderly population. Five buses from the Eshkol region transported seniors for a 3 day trip to Tiberius, an area so far untouched by the rockets. And then you have the many seniors who reside within the 15-30 second siren to rocket arrival time region who are now living in their ‘safe’ rooms. They cannot move fast enough to make it to a nearby bomb shelter, so it has become necessary for them to just move in. JDC has 70+ case workers working with 9,000 seniors, providing portable toilets, hot meals and other services to these seniors in these safe rooms as necessary.
The Reform Movement is, in addition to sending over 250 volunteers into the shelters and community centers in the South to help out, providing host families for individuals with special needs to move in with. These host families are Reform families living throughout Israel, and includes Lotan, the Reform kibbutz near Eilat.
JFNA has allocated $500,000 to what they are calling the Targeted Relief Program. They are providing grants of between $3,000 and $25,000 to local organizations (NGOs) who are responding with targeted and innovative programs. Not all solutions need come from large agencies. These micro-grants can make things happen fast!
As you can see, our money is really making a difference.