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Last Friday night a rocket fired from Gaza exploded in our WIZO Open House Early Childhood Development Centre in Sderot. There were no injuries but the building was severely damaged. Red alert sirens sounded just after 11 pm on Friday night and a few minutes later the rocket exploded inside the city, blasting a hole in the roof of the partially fortified building and damaging adjacent buildings. According to the IDF’s assessment, the rocket is not connected with the terrorist attacks in the West Bank, but is rather connected with the end of the month of Ramadan.

It was a Nes Mishamaim – a great miracle that no one was hurt.

The Open House in Sderot aims to identify and treat children with health, developmental and environmental difficulties. It also assists early age children and their families who are in a state of distress and anxiety due to the security situation and helps parents by providing advice, training and empowerment. Coincidentally, a first-aid course for kindergarten teachers in the city was to begin on Sunday.

In true WIZO spirit, the end-of-year ceremony for 6 and 7 year old children who attend the centre that was scheduled to take place early this week, went ahead as planned. This how we fight terrorism!

The Open House in Sderot first opened its doors as a Day Care Center in 1991 with the sponsorship of WIZO UK and has continued WIZO’s mission to support and empower communities and parents in the periphery. In 2007, when the situation in the South worsened and the people of Sderot found themselves under constant rocket fire, the building, which is not rocket-proof, could no longer be used as a Day Care Centre.

But that did not mean we surrendered to terrorism. We protected our children by transferring our services to the newly built rocket-proof Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Day Care Centre in Sderot, sponsored by WIZO Switzerland.

Alongside these efforts, we have worked together with the Sderot Municipality and the Gvanim Association, a local non-profit organization, to create a therapeutic centre, with enrichment programs for parents and children, child development projects and training courses for Day Care Centre staff.

During these times we see WIZO at its best – WIZO that is responsive and alert to the needs of the hour. WIZO that empowers every child, woman and youth in Israel in times of need.

We have supported the communities in the South in the dark hours of Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge and during times when dozens of rockets were launched at Sderot nearly every day. We will continue to support them because they are at the front line of Israel’s war against terror.
Let’s hope and pray for more peaceful days ahead.

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