As the crisis in Israel continues, with an unclear outcome to cease fire talks, JDC has been hard at work caring for the most vulnerable and operating around the clock to ensure comfort and aid to those living under missile attack.
Today, we share with you a report from Yossi Tamir, our Director General of JDC-Israel, on his recent trip to the South to monitor our work and show solidarity with his fellow Israelis.
We left Jerusalem and within 40 minutes arrived in Ashdod. The morning hours are especially tense, since the city has been waking up to sirens this last week. Ashdod has been hit by the largest number of missiles in the current operation and the day before our visit, a 10-year-old was injured.
Ashdod is the fifth-largest city in Israel and its social resilience is significant in upholding the strength of the home front. In Ashdod, we began our crisis assistance with the deployment of 40 community caseworkers, who immediately began reaching out to elderly residing in the city. We have also provided respite activities for the elderly and activities for children and youth at risk who are spending time in shelters.
The municipal director of welfare services said JDC’s quick response to the crisis was a big help to her. Were it not for the city’s system of volunteers together with the caseworkers' moral support of the elderly, the situation would not have been good. JDC is making a significant difference in the city.
Afterwards we travelled to the JDC Day Center for the Elderly at the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council, which is located just 800 meters from Gaza. Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council is in charge of 10 kibbutzim, which are always under the threat of missiles.
The commitment of the staff and that of the Supportive Community father — who daily checks on the well-being of all the elderly in the community — is incredible. The day center staff thanked us for the quick mobilization of the community caseworkers who provide additional support to the overworked Community father.
They also stressed that we cannot leave the elderly immediately after the crisis is over. They explained that during the emergency, many elderly appear to be functioning under the pressure; it is only after it has passed that their anxieties emerge and we need to respond to their needs. This is especially so in the case of Holocaust survivors and elderly who do not have familial support.
From there we travelled to Beersheva and joined the JFNA solidarity mission that was visiting JDC’s Center for Independent Living (CIL).
I arrived a few minutes early and walked around the center. Inside was a group of volunteers — students from Ben Gurion University — who were contacting the hundreds of people with disabilities living in the city. The volunteers ask after their well-being and provide assistance when needed.
For example, they told me about a man in a wheelchair that they called, who lives on the eighth floor of a building with no elevator. The man was in distress and unable to fend for himself. The CIL was able to evacuate the man and send him by ambulance to a safe place in Netanya until the crisis ended.
I come out of this visit very encouraged by the spirit and courage of these people, and their determination to uphold their routine despite everything. They are the real heroes, working in the line of fire in order to help the vulnerable populations. We need to continue and support them through these hard times.
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