WIZO – A Home and Refuge for Ukrainian Children in Crisis
Help WIZO provide for Ukrainian children already in Israel, and those to come.
When Jewish children anywhere are in distress, the eyes of the Jewish world turn to WIZO.
Because we are the Women’s International Zionist Organization, and we have been been caring for Jewish children in crisis, in Israel and the diaspora, for more than 100 years. This is who we are.
We cared for Jewish children living poverty and misery in the pre-State “Yishuv”; We cared for the children survivors of the Holocaust, providing refuge and love and education to a generation of traumatized orphans, remnants of European Jewry. We embraced generations of children and families who escaped persecution in the Arab world after the founding of the State of Israel, through to the children of the Ethiopian immigration of the 1980s.
As so it was, through all the decades, all the wars and persecutions and crises – WIZO was there with a loving embrace, food, shelter, education, pride and independence.
Today, as the children of Ukraine are victimized by the terrors of war – WIZO is here for them.
WIZO is seeking support to assist two different groups of Ukrainian children: the 68 that live and study in WIZO youth villages in the framework of the Naaleh program; and a large (but as yet unknown) number of children who will be sent to our youth villages as refugees escaping their war-torn country.
The Ukrainian children in our youth villages:
This past week has been filled with fear and increasing anxiety for the 68 Ukrainian teens living and studying in WIZO’s youth villages. Having made aliya, they were hopeful that their families would soon follow, but suddenly nothing seems hopeful anymore as they watch the news and pray for their family’s safety.
After two years of lockdowns, quarantines and a pandemic that never seems to end, while living so far away from their families, these Ukrainian children were finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. They had begun to plan trips back home for Pesach and summer holidays, but now their happy and hopeful plans have been replaced with fear of the unknown, and anxiety that no teen could be expected to cope with.
Galia Meron, Director of WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village, home to 39 Ukrainian students, us about Irena*. “She was distraught and appeared lost. I saw her wandering on the campus grounds, she couldn’t stop crying and shaking. All I could do to try to comfort her was to wrap my arms around her and hug her.”
Irena is only one of 68 youth who need our help to cope emotionally. Teens like Irena need extra support and therapies, and she and her Ukrainian friends have begun to receive psychological treatment that no one had planned or expected that these healthy and intelligent children would need. In many cases, we will be providing them with treatment and medications to help them deal with this traumatic situation – medical care not covered by Israel’s national health insurance.
Refugee children and teens we expect to take in the coming weeks and months:
With a huge influx of refugees, including teens aged 12-17, that is expected to arrive very soon, Galia and other WIZO youth village directors have been approached to find out the number of refugee youth they will be able to accept. We should have this information shortly, but until we do, we already know one thing for certain, that these teen refugees will be arriving emotionally broken with practically nothing other than the clothes on their backs. They will need basic items such as shoes, clothing and toiletries. New beds, mattresses, storage closets, towels and linens will need to be purchased for them. Once their basic needs are met, and after undergoing professional assessments to determine their emotional state, counselling, medications and psychiatric care in the Russian language will be required. To meet their social needs, additional youth counsellors will need to be hired, along with enrichment programming and tutoring to fill their educational gaps and challenges.