Shula’s story from Makom Balev

shula's story wizo
“Here, they don’t judge,” Shula says. “and always there is a warm meal, a hot shower, and a listening ear. No questions asked, and they (the team) are always here for me.” Shula worked as a prostitute since she was a vulnerable sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, lured into the sex trade by sweet-talking perpetrators who promised her an easy income and a glamorous lifestyle. She recalls the words, “a life you can only dream of,” they had said. Her attitude towards her parents, who refused to accept her new chosen profession, became hostile. And after too many fights, they threw her out, cutting all ties with their only daughter. The streets became her home. Speaking freely, she said, “But there was nothing glamorous about that life. The tears ran down my cheeks as I was violated – but I did not know how to change my reality. I believed I had fallen too far to climb back up – until I came here to Makom Balev.” Shula is just one of the many young women who found sanctuary at WIZO Makom Balev (a place in the heart). She was supported by a team of social workers and counselors who gently guided her towards a better future. “You know, the only people in the world who cared for my welfare are the team here? I wanted to make them proud, and I wanted to make me proud.” Shula explains. She learned that she is worthy of becoming so much more, and through the vocational rehabilitation scheme at Makom Balev, Shula enrolled in a beauty therapy course. Shula reached out to her parents after four years of being on the streets with the team’s encouragement. The reunion was awkward at first, but as the WIZO social worker who accompanied her spoke of her progress, the tears and hugs flowed. Empowering and keeping women safe is a crucial part of WIZO’s work. In addition to initiating and lobbying for stricter legislation, WIZO provides women of all ages the self-esteem to know they are worthy and life-enhancing programs to show them how to prove it. Situated in Beer Sheba, Makom BaLev (sponsored by WIZO Australia) has taken many young women off the streets and away from the evils of prostitution. Professional counseling, dedicated social workers, and liaison with medical and welfare services provide opportunities for change for good, allowing Israel’s women to look forward to a brighter future.

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