Each his neighbor they help, and to his brother he said: "Be strong!"
(Isaiah, XLI, 6)
We have now started our seventh year of intensive activity in assisting the children and youth of Sderot. Since the Pillar of Defense Operation, calm reigns in the region and it seems, for the time being, that the lesson has been
Internalized by the "Hamastan" leadership and that despite the imaginary victory cries they are very careful not to bring upon themselves additional destruction. However, nobody in the region deludes himself that calm shall
Continue, and a renewal of outbursts of violence is only a question of time.
The extensive investment in shelters and other protective infrastructure has proven its efficiency: despite the huge number of rockets and mortar shells of all kinds that were sent on Sderot and other Gaza surrounding localities, the number of casualties remained a minimum. The city promptly returned to normal life, but its financial situation is still difficult. The government allocated an important amount of money, but this was barely sufficient to cover past debts and salaries.
In this context, we continued our action in the areas of social welfare, informal education, care of children and youth at risk, warm meals for children from social care families clubs, anti-drug workshops, high-school alcohol abuse, violence and more. We pursued the promotion of numerous educational platforms, among them workshops for high school students,
13th and 14th grade curriculum for electronic practical engineers, financing enrichment courses for children and youth in cooperation with the municipal welfare department and the Community Center, as well as a pre-military preparation class, purchasing Cinematheque subscription cards for children, together with our regular computers, furniture, clothing and food donations.
Here are some details about our activities in Sderot during the past year:
Cluster of Children's Clubs
The complex, which was renovated and received some improvements, functions nicely. Two clubs are active there, in addition to a central kitchen which prepares warm meals for the children of the clubs. We intend to create there a computers room, beside the center for remedial teaching which already operates there for some time.
The project continued and even extended, while successive cuts in the municipal welfare budget diminished and almost eliminated the possibility for the clubs to prepare hot and nourishing meals for the children
There. Because of the difficult economic situation of their families, the meal provided through this program is all too often the only warm meal that they receive during the whole day. Thanks to the generosity of the Christians for Israel in Canada Community who have undertaken to support our warm meal project, we are able to offer every day in all "our" clubs a decent meal comprising meat, vegetables and fruit, to tens of children at risk from families in distress. The Spiritual Shepherd of the Community, Revd. John Tweedie, visits Sderot regularly at least once a year and brings back to his flock in Canada first hand impressions that generate an ever growing, greatly appreciated long term contribution, particularly to this project.
For this sixth consecutive year, we sent pupils from the two comprehensive high-schools in Sderot – the religious and the secular – to workshops at the Cameri Theater in Tel-Aviv. These included visits of the theater, conversations with actors and stage directors, and attendance at a play chosen by the school.
We have started this year a project of "Musical tastings", to be continued, at the comprehensive secular high-school in cooperation with the Music and Dance Academy in Jerusalem. Musicians from the Academy come to the school and demonstrate the use of various instruments – strings, percussion, wind and keyboard. At the end of the round, they join in a short and explained concert, in which they play a well known musical work. This project met with a great success and will be extended in the coming year to the religious high-school as well.
Cooperation with the Music and Dance Academy
Will be extended in 2013 to comprise tutoring by Academy teachers at the municipal conservatory musical clubs and the Community Center dance clubs. One cannot exaggerate the high added value of this activity for the children of Sderot. For the time being one semester is envisaged, and we shall decide on the continuation and extension of the project upon its results. The contribution of the Academy staff is on a fully voluntary basis, and we support all the related expenses – travel, equipment and so on.
We purchased hundreds of subscription cards for 1st-6th grade pupils. Here we attained a double goal: offering children the possibility to watch quality movies, and provide a critical financial support to the local cinematheque, which has severe budgetary problems.
Summer camps and summer projects
With the generous help of donators, we managed to send 300 children from distressed families to summer camps, in association with the Welfare Department and the Community Center, and hold other summer activities for them after the camps were closed.
Study groups for children from social care families
A joint project with the Welfare Department and the Community Center, during the whole school year, involving at least one hundred children. It includes enriching courses in English, computers, or drawing, ceramics, judo, capoeira, various instruments playing and more. This was made possible mainly thanks to an important contribution by the pharmaceutical firm"Teva", which generously responded to our request. This year we shall include in this program about 45 former members of the Children's Clubs, who will join the other children already taking part in the activities of the Community Center, up to a total of 145 children.
Practical engineers course for 13th and 14th grade pupils
Tens of pupils have until now been trained in four courses as electronics practical engineers, and joined the Air Force. The project is continued at the "Amal" College in Beer-Sheba, and preparations are under way to select appropriate candidates for the fifth course. This project has proven a great success: even though the number of students is not high, one has to recall that priority is given to the recruitment to fighting units, and that the yearly total of 12th grade graduates does not exceed 150-200 pupils. It is extremely significant to the individual participant and is considered to be a major contribution to the future social fabric and economic vitality of the city.
Pre-military preparation course
The Preparatory School is now in its permanent premises and has been granted recognition by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Defense. The participants, coming from other localities, have well integrated in the city, volunteer in social activities and represent a major contribution to the community in which they live. Our main assistance consists in promoting solutions to problems linked to the local authorities and other factors thanks to our own involvement.
Links with the Negev Nuclear Research Center
Scientists from the Center serve as tutors to pupils of the secular comprehensive high school, especially in computers disciplines, and bring them to impressive achievements in their final works. The project, which we initiated at the beginning of our action in Sderot, continues worthily since then.
The programs described above are the highlights of our activities in Sderot, as we are fully committed to pursue a seventh year of intensive activity there, continually seeking additional ways to respond quickly and efficiently to existing and new needs. With your help, we feel fortunate to be able to contribute our time, cumulative experience and connections to help alleviate but some of the challenges of the people of Sderot. We are present there at least once a week; we have become a part of the landscape and an address for requests from various factors to help in a wide range of all kinds of subjects.
We consider all these requests with the utmost seriousness and respond to them positively in the measure of our best possibilities. Sometimes our knowledge of government institutions or influential organizations and personal links with them are sufficient to obtain the required assistance. Some other times, when the subject does not correspond exactly with our declared aims, we do not hesitate to contribute personally with our private moneys and help wherever we can. The most important for us is to be able to be helpful and solve problems – which, alas, abound.