Helping Israel’s Disabled Cope with Escalating Rocket Attacks
Dalia Bar Shitrit is the manager of JDC's Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Be’er Sheva. As the rocket attacks from Gaza began to escalate and the CIL building itself was closed, without a second thought Dalia relocated the CIL operation to her home.
From there, together with a skeletal staff of the Center's volunteer and emergency coordinators, Dalia has been working non-stop to continue "business as usual" for the 3,000 people with disabilities who live in and around Be’er Sheva and rely on its services.
However, as the video images streaming out of Israel make clear, life in Be’e Sheva is anything but usual these days. The city has been the target of repeated barrages of Grad rockets, more powerful than the Kassam missiles and with a considerably longer range.
Dalia says she is constantly fearful and anxious. The CIL phone lines that she forwarded to her home have been ringing off the hook—no surprise given the central role that the Center has been playing for this population group.
JDC's Centers for Independent Living (CILs) are community-based centers run by the disabled for the disabled, providing them with information, peer counseling, and professional training, and enabling people with disabilities to live as part of the general community.
With that general community now imperiled, most of the calls that Dalia and her team members are fielding are from frightened individuals who feel even more vulnerable than the average Israeli because of their disabilities.
The siren shriek that warns of an incoming rocket is especially terrifying to those who know they lack the ability to take shelter within the 60-second window that follows. And even those who have a safe room in their homes are dependent on their caregivers to help them take cover. For those who must find refuge in a public shelter, the situation is much worse.
With dedication and diligence, Dalia and her emergency team are doing all they can to continue to provide support and comfort to the disabled residents of Be’er Sheva in this crisis.
Throughout the emergency zones, JDC has been providing immediate and critical assistance to people with disabilities with generous support from our funding partners The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), the Federation system, and others, including:
Packing and distributing emergency kits with essentials such as a flashlight, portable radio, a first aid kit, and bottled water.
Mobilizing emergency teams of caseworkers, together with Israel’s Ministry of Welfare, to reach some 50,000 elderly and disabled and provide them with emotional and physical support.
Supplying portable toilets for people with severe disabilities who would otherwise have limited options as to where they could seek shelter (because some bomb shelters are not accessible for people with disabilities; even those that are may not have accessible bathrooms; and the family, friends, or neighbors they are staying with may not have toilets accessible for people with disabilities).
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