Sapir, a serious and well-liked 18 year-old girl, has lived at an Emunah Children’s Center for eight years. At the tender age of 8, Sapir lost her mother and was left at home with her abusive, alcoholic father and her seven older siblings. Sapir, the second youngest, was in crisis and was a very angry child. All who knew the family were not optimistic about her chances to break out of the cycle. Absent from school and physically neglected, social services placed Sapir an Emunah Home.
The early years were not easy, but after years of support and dealing with her issues, Sapir grew and matured. She began to show more interest and commitment towards her schoolwork and became highly motivated. “You’ll see,” she once told us, “I’m going to show everybody and become the first member of my family to go to university.”
Sapir has been one of the seniors to benefit from our Emunotebooks program over recent years, “clocking up” probably hundreds of hours with our tutors. Her achievements speak for themselves. She will graduate from high school in June and commence her 2-year military service. Since she will have a full high school diploma, following her term in the army, Sapir will have the opportunity to benefit from the Emunah Scholarship Fund and indeed fulfill her dream to be the first college graduate in her family. She has made herself, and all at the Emunah Center, very proud of her hard-earned accomplishments.
Odell is a twelve-year-old girl with a rare health condition requiring costly medication, diet and exercise under close medical supervision. Before she arrived at Emunah’s Neve Michael with her four sisters, the unusual state of affairs that characterized her childhood left no room for health concerns. In fact, Odell’s formative years were so abnormal that no one in her world paid attention to her special medical needs.Odell’s father, now serving a 26-year prison term, was the leader of a cult incorporating seven wives and all of their children. One of the women ran away and alerted the police of the goings-on inside the cult. The women and their families had been held against their will in an atmosphere of sexual degradation and drug and alcohol consumption. While the women were forced to participate in sex orgies the children languished in unsanitary and sub-human conditions as they were maltreated, poorly clothed, verbally abused, beaten and starved. The children were not allowed to attend school or make any contact with the outside world. It seemed to them as though their nightmarish childhood would go on forever until the authorities intervened and put an end to it.When Odell was delivered to the Emunah’s Neve Michael Emergency Crisis Center in the dead of night along with her traumatized sisters, the physical and emotional damage to these girls was so severe that Odell’s rare health problem paled in comparison.The horror that these girls went through is inestimable. But now, after three years in the Children’s Village, the girls, with the help of our caring professional staff, are mending the fragments of their shattered youth. They are attending school, interacting with other children at risk and making friends for life. In supervised therapy sessions, they are coming to grips with their lost childhood years and are learning that the real world has something better to offer them. Surrounded by love and kindness from their teachers, counselors and supportive new friends, Odell and her sisters can now experience the joys of teen hood and look forward to growing up.
Little Leah was recently brought to Emunah’s Neve Michael Children’s Emergency Center. She is slight and brittle and the look in those sad dark eyes tells an awful tale. There is a desolate place in her soul emanating through those cheerless eyes, as if someone took the light out of her life.
The circumstances of Leah’s arrival at Emunah’s Neve Michael are similar to those of so many of our children. She was brought here by Court order after the Welfare authorities determined that her natural parents were no longer capable of raising her in a normal family environment. They were alerted of Leah’s plight when the neighbors heard screaming sounds coming from her apartment. The story behind those screams was horrifying. They were made by Leah’s mother, who was subjected to regular beatings at the hands of Leah’s father. We learned through neighbors that the beatings weren’t the worst part, as they would often hear the cry: “no, not my little girl!” ringing down the hallway.
Poor Leah was panic stricken when she had been taken from her home. We asked her if she knew why she was brought to us, and she said in a small voice that broke our hearts: “Is it because my daddy was touching me?”
Since her arrival Leah has gone through a most painful transition. Slowly, she is coming to understand that her parents are no longer the main figures in her life. That role has been passed on to the caring folks at our Children’s Home, who Leah is now turning to with trusting eyes and depending on to take care of her.
The housemother at our children’s dormitory is heartened by the sight of Leah sitting with the other children to eat her meals without coaxing. Her appetite has come back, along with the color in her cheeks. Of late, she has even rewarded our housemother with hugs, and she is smiling more every day.
There are different ways of touching a little girl. One leaves a scar for life. The other is that special human touch that we give so tenderly at Emunah’s Neve Michael. It brings our children hope, reassurance, and restores the joy that was taken from their childhood.
Beautiful and talented Eden Nagado, a 17-year-old senior, will commence her 6th year at the Emunah Children’s Center in Afula in September. Eden’s father, an alcoholic, is serving a lengthy sentence in the Be’er Sheva maximum security prison, for domestic violence. Until recently Eden had no contact with her father but with the intervention of the Emunah team, she met him for the first time. The meeting was moving and empowering, and Eden has grown a great deal since then. She is a madricha of a local Bnei Akiva group and an outstanding young lady who has chosen life.
Eden has been learning to play the piano at the Emunah Center since she was 12. She is a very talented player and singer, and recently, with the encouragement of Yair Daniel, the director of the center, Eden has begun to record her own album. She also appears often with the Emunotes, Emunah Afula’s performing choir and dancing troupe.
15-year-old Revital arrived at the doorstep of the first Teen Age Girls’ Crisis Center in Israel, housed at Emunah’s Neve Michael Children’s Village. Revital was accompanied by a police officer and a social worker after being dragged from the streets of Jerusalem.
After many hours of therapy, the professional staff at Neve Michael’s, discovered that Revital had been sexually abused when she was 5 years old by a family member, who is now deceased. Unfortunetly, Revital’s family was not able to prevent the subsequent deterioration in their daughter’s life.
Revital spent 5 and a half months at the Crisis Center and was then placed with a foster family in the north, who specializes in caring for girls-at-risk. Though she is living with the family, she receives professional support from time to time, from the Neve Michael staff. Recently, Revital was reunited with her older sister, although the rest of her family have entirely cut her off.