Nineteen-year-old Ora lives with her parents in Beersheva. The smile on her pretty face hides the emotional pain and anguish that she suffers at the hands of her alcoholic father. She is tormented by fear. Her self-worth is in tatters.
The family receives welfare services. For Ora’s mother, every day is a struggle. She is powerless against her husband’s alcohol-fueled rages, which only add to their financial pressures and her helplessness. She cannot protect Ora from him. She can barely protect herself.
Ora’s social worker referred Ora to the WIZO Australia-sponsored Makom Balev, (A Place in the Heart) a centre where young women find respite, assistance and therapies as well as a warm home-cooked meal in the daytime. There, qualified social workers work closely with those who have become victims of circumstance, creating a nurturing atmosphere of safety. At Makom Balev, counselors listen with compassion and gently guide the young women they help towards more healthy life choices for the future.
In September 2019, the Makom Balev Centre will extend services to include overnight stays in its three-bed facility, which has been newly furnished. Extra staff will be employed to accommodate overnight and short emergency stays, thus extending the scope of services offered to these vulnerable women, including those who reside outside of Beersheva.
Just last month (July) an emergency overnight situation arose and the Makom Balev staff knew that they would have to take matters into their own hands. They simply could not wait until September.
After yet another drinking session at Ora’s home, her father and his friends made life unbearable for Ora and she knew she had to escape their advances to save herself. She frantically phoned her social worker at Makom Balev and begged her to find a safe place to stay for the night. Police intervention confirmed that Ora was indeed in great danger.
As soon as the team became aware of Ora’s plight they mobilized to help her, accommodating her in the new emergency bedroom, Two of the daytime staff agreed to spend the night along with Ora, to calm and reassure this vulnerable and terrified young woman that she was not alone. Indeed, she had a place in their hearts and found shelter at the very place that is called ‘A Place in the Heart’.
In September, when the emergency housing unit opens officially, more young women like Ora will benefit from the refuge and reassurance that Makom Balev offers.
The Makom Balev Center for Young Women in Distress in Beersheva, sponsored by WIZO Australia, serves at-risk girls from the age of 16 who suffer abuse, social isolation and poverty. Part of the national “Halev” (“the heart”) program of the Ministry of Welfare in cooperation with the Municipality of Beersheva and WIZO Israel, the center provides day treatment, support and acts as an emergency center for young at-risk women.