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On 8 January 2018, an exceptional ceremony took place at Makom Balev in Be’er Sheva for the official opening of this shelter for young women at-risk.

The women of WIZO Australia have worked tirelessly to realize the dream of opening this shelter. The dream has become a reality after many years of dedication, determination and hard work.

WIZO Australia President, Paulette Cherny, was honoured to open the shelter with His Excellency, Chris Cannan, Australian Ambassador to Israel. Anat Vidor, President of WIZO New South Wales, the Australian delegation, representatives from the municipality of Be’er Sheva, WIZO Israel social worker and members of the World WIZO Fundraising Division attended.

Makom Balev, a place in the heart, is an emergency shelter and treatment centre for young women in the low socio-economic area of Be’er Sheva. Here these women can receive warm meals, somewhere to rest their heads and a safe environment to depend on. The shelter has a state-of the art kitchen, two washrooms, living room, dining room, meeting room for group therapy, emergency housing for 4 women, an office and overnight accommodation for staff.

His Excellency Ambassador Cannan praised the women of WIZO Australia for their committed connection to Israel, and the profound impact they have on Israeli society. He also highlighted the continued connection Australia has to the city of Be’er Sheva, just over 100 years after the Battle of Be’er Sheva. Paulette Cherny addressed the WIZO Israel staff -enthused by the incredible work which will be achieved at Makom Balev. “We built this building, but what you do, is build lives” she said. Anat Vidor spoke emotionally about the project sharing everyone’s sentiments and included greetings from Esther Mor, President World WIZO. Finally, guests were lucky enough to hear from Tal, a young woman who benefited from WIZO Beit Adi, a treatment centre in Be’er Sheva for younger girls. She spoke bravely about the impact that WIZO has in her life, referring to WIZO as “home.” She has now become a mentor and coach for women who are in a similar situation to her own.

It was a touching ceremony, and a beautiful way to celebrate the profound work that WIZO Australia has done in Israel. Makom Balev is the embodiment of our visionary Theodore Herzl’s ideal, “If you will it, it is not a dream.”

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