Elifelet seeks emergency donations to purchase food for children and ensure the continued operation of protective day-care centers for at-risk children
Elifelet – Citizens for Refugee Children, is an apolitical organization. Its volunteers are driven by compassion and a sense of responsibility to provide humanitarian aid in the form of medical, emotional and educational support to the children of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv. This community of asylum seekers includes more than 1,000 infants, children and their families living in the Shapira and Hatikva neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv. The organization provides active aid to 35 makeshift daycare centers set up by the community (sometimes dubbed “babysitters” or “child warehouses” by the Israeli media). It runs two after-school therapeutic facilities for children aged 3-10 who have been diagnosed as being particularly at-risk either developmentally, emotionally or financially. For its achievements, Elifelet has received the 2016 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic, the 2015 Israeli President’s Award for Volunteerism and the 2015 Yigal Alon Award for Exemplary Pioneering Civilian Activity.
“Elifelet” is now functioning in a state of emergency as a result of the current threat of deportation. We urgently need to respond to the hunger crisis resulting directly from the Deposit Law (details below). Moreover, we must take immediate measures to address the huge increase in harassment directed at refugee children.
On the eve of Passover a baby died at one of the babysitting centers operated by the African community. His name was Osher meaning “Happiness” in Hebrew. He was a year old, the only child of a Jewish mother (of Ethiopian descent) and an Eritrean father. Osher was the 18th child to die in one of these centers since 2010. This is the catastrophic result of the children’s weakened immune systems caused by poor nutrition in their first year of life, combined with the dangerous safety and hygiene conditions in these centers where the children remain from early morning until late at night. In 2017 we saw an enormous improvement in the children’s well-being, thanks to the widespread activities of Elifelet volunteers, the training they offered and intensive aid in providing safety equipment and installing air-conditioners.
In recent years, we saw a significant change in the ability of parents to hold down jobs and earn a living, and there was an increase in parents’ active involvement in their children’s education. These positive developments have been brutally disrupted since the implementation of the draconian “Deposit Law.”
The “Deposit Law” is designed, explicitly, to harm the parents’ ability to earn a living, in order to break their spirit and force them to willingly accept deportation. According to the law, 20% of a refugee worker’s salary is deposited, to be withdrawn only upon deportation. In addition the law also burdens the employers with a further 16% tax for employing the asylum seekers. Consequently, many refugees have been fired, while others are struggling to survive the deep cut to their already meager wages. The results we see on the ground are horrifying: there is a lack of food and baby formula; in many homes there is literally nothing to eat. For the past two-and-a-half months, Elifelet volunteers have been delivering basic food on a weekly basis to more than one thousand young children and to dozens of families. To illustrate the dire urgency of the situation we face – in our after-school therapeutic facilities for at-risk children we have moved the hot meal from lunch to dinner to ensure that children do not go to bed hungry.
The threat of deportation has intensified two troubling phenomena: the harassment that the children experience from supporters of the deportation, and symptoms of stress and anxiety as a result of the arrests of relatives. We must ensure the ongoing operation of our therapeutic facilities for the most vulnerable children. These children have no cost-free alternative, and we are very concerned to ensure that these protective facilities continue to function as an anchor for these children.
Contributions to Elifelet are recognized for the purpose of Israeli tax credits pursuant to section 46a.
Thank you, from the children and volunteers of Elifelet.