Occupational Therapy Afternoon Club for children aged 8-10 (closed on August 2018)
The club for the older children, 6 to 10-year-olds, was opened in 2014, in a little house located on the border of the Florentin neighborhood in South Tel Aviv. It was closed by the end of the 2018 school year. A new project is planned instead of this club for 2019. More details will follow at the beginning of 2019.
The club itself is designed like a warm home: a big space with all the necessary equipment, a large courtyard that serves as a garden and a playground. The children --who previously wandered the streets from the time school ended until late at night-- now come to the club directly after school and stay there until evening. The team includes two teachers, two assistants and a wide circle of dedicated volunteers. After club hours, the space serves for training and counseling parents and daycare owners from the refugee community.
Most of the children at this club were not born in Israel, and many experienced severe trauma along the journey that brought them here. They suffered abuse and threats to their lives by authorities as they were chased out of one country and into another (e.g., Libya, Egypt), and some were separated from their mothers (frequently by Bedouin gangs in the Sinai). Many have witnessed such indescribable horrors as the assassination of loved ones and the rape of female relatives, including, in some cases, their own mothers. Many of these children have spent time in the Israeli detention camp, 'Saharonim', in the desert, where some were actually born.
Once they arrived in Tel Aviv, their parents had to work long hours to survive financially. Consequently, the children were put into daycare centers run by women in the African community, many of whom do not speak the same language as the children's parents. They spent all day and part of the night at these overcrowded "babysitting" centers, receiving little attention, and no stimulation or enrichment. In addition to the emotional trauma they have experienced, and the severe economic hardship at home, these children are deficient in all aspects of their education, including linguistic (Hebrew) skills, and completely unprepared for entry into the Israeli school system.
Elifelet's afternoon club has become a safe haven and even a surrogate family for these children; a place where they are listened to, cared for, where they are exposed to educational activities, and taught skills to develop their individual creativity. To this end, we have enlisted the aid of professionals, specifically, in the fields of psychology, art and education.
When we first opened the club for elementary school children, we found that they had great difficulty reading Hebrew. During the summer vacation, a group of volunteers began to tutor the children, and by the beginning of the current school year, all our club children had achieved reading fluency. Their subsequent thirst for reading took us by surprise, although it delighted us and gave us great satisfaction. Thanks to large donations of books, we have been able to enlarge our library collection several times.
In addition to a strong emphasis on teaching and assistance with school homework, the club offers after-school programs, such as: art; playing a musical instrument; yoga; therapy with animals; gardening; cooking, and more. The children go on outings and attend various performances several times a year.
We are very proud of the impressive performance given by the club's choir who sang at a ceremony at the Israeli President's residence, when Elifelet received the President's Award for Volunteerism. The children charmed the audience and they received a very warm welcome from President Reuven Rivlin.
Thanks to a several collaborative efforts with high school students, the Scouts youth group, and different moshavim and kibbutzim, among others, we have been able to realize a number of goals and make some dreams come true. We are delighted to have seen these children, coming from such difficult circumstances, evolve into successful and self-assured teenagers.
We see in the club's children the future leaders of their community. Our goal is to strengthen and broaden the club's activities and accompany the children until they graduate from high school. In addition, we hope to be able to help more children every year.
Occupational Therapy Afternoon Club Ages 6-7
Elifelet is successfully running one afternoon club for refugee children currently in 1st and 2nd grades. This occupational therapy club for children in distress fulfill a vital role, offering a warm, supportive environment that provides education, treatment and enrichment. It fills the gap between the time the children leave kindergarten or school and the late afternoon, when there is no institutional, or adequate community-based alternative. The clubs provide a hot meal, educational, cultural, creative, physical and recreational activities, in addition to counseling and psychological assistance. The children who attend come from extremely deprived backgrounds, suffer from delayed development as well as psychological problems and economic hardship. These same children are now flourishing at the club, as they develop their own identities, build their self-esteem and use the tools they have been given to integrate into the Israeli education system. To date, our afternoon clubs serve about 30 children, aged six to seven. Our aim is to open up more of these essential afternoon clubs to increasing numbers of children.
Our afternoon club operates in the Shapira neighborhood in South Tel Aviv. The club features: two well-equipped activity rooms (to accommodate playtime, rest period, learning activities and eating lunch); a third, smaller, room for one-on-one activities and meetings with children and their parents; a kitchen; toilets; and a small backyard that serves as a playground. The children are brought to the club at 1:30 PM by volunteers who fetch them from different elementary schools. At the club, the team is ready for them with a hot lunch and various activities, lasting until 6:30 PM. When not in use by the children, the club also hosts counseling sessions for parents and the staff at the refugee daycare centers that are run with Elifelet's assistance.
Elifelet's afternoon club was opened in 2014 in response to the dire need for a safe environment that would provide an educational framework for children with special educational and emotional requirements. Refugee children have a particularly difficult time adjusting to the Israeli educational framework, because they lack the appropriate training and language skills, compounded by their harsh living conditions and the deprivation they have known thus far.
Through our 6-7 year old club, and later, we are trying to ensure the healthy development of these children. Moreover, we are working to facilitate their entry into the regular Israeli educational system, so that eventually, each child can realize her or his potential and go on to become an asset to society.
In addition to the principal activities involving children, we also make use of the club premises, after hours, to train parents and caregivers at refugee daycare centers. At night, the club becomes a center for learning and team-building. Our teachers and counsellors volunteer extra hours to encourage parents to become more involved with their children as well as to strengthen our relationship with the African refugee community. Our aim is for the community to become independent so its residents are capable of building afternoon clubs for their children by themselves.
Our reward is in our success: young children with vacant eyes become alert and radiant when they are warmly welcomed into the club by our team of teachers and volunteers. For the first time in their lives, they are in a suitable, enriching environment. Please help us bring joy to many other children who seek it by making a donation or volunteering your assistance. Together, we will make these children safe.
The medical-therapeutic-developmental project of Elifelet
Only one third of the refugee children in South Tel Aviv have medical insurance through a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Even those who have this form of medical insurance, still get limited coverage, that does not include dental care. Consequently, none of the refugee children are entitled to dental care.
Elifelet is operating a medical project to give urgent care to children aged 0 to 6, who are cared for in the babysitting centers that are under Elifelet's supervision, and in Elifelet's own afternoon clubs. To end, we have hired professional volunteers who are physicians, dentists, social works and pyschologists.
How does this medical project work?
The medical aid project rests on a number of essential spheres of activity:
- Identification and training – Experts in child development, volunteer to visit the nurseries regularly and identify babies and toddlers with medical or developmental problems. These professionals then teach the parents and the volunteers how best way to help these young children.
- Vaccines and medical treatments – Elifelet receive vaccines and other necessary medical treatments from the Be'Terem clinic and Physicians for Human Rights organization as well as from medical experts who volunteer to work with the children.
- Dental Healthcare – A group of dentists volunteer their time and expertise to provide dental care to the children. Elifelet receives aid from the Faculty of Dentistry at Tel Aviv University and from other wonderful private dentists who treat the children at no cost.
- Special Needs – Experts in psychology and speech therapy help the children who have special needs and train volunteers to work with them. Elifelet always needs more experts in these fields.
- Transportation – Volunteers drive the children to the various medical or dental treatments.
- Equipment – Donors who are interested in purchasing 'First Aid' kits for the nurseries
Elifelet’s Coloring Book: All the Colors of the Rainbow
The greatest Israeli illustrators and children's authors have donated their talents to help us create an exceptional project. It invites us all --big and small-- to make the refugee children's future brighter by purchasing this lovely book, All the Colors of the Rainbow, and coloring in its pages.
Renowned children's authors, Datia Ben Dor and Yehuda Atlas, together with the most popular illustrators, have offered their services to create a magical book. It is a veritable work of art, emphasizing values such as: compassion, empathy, mutual responsibility, tolerance, self-acceptance and acceptance of those who are different. Our hardback volume contains 84 pages with 39 wonderful illustrations just waiting to be colored in. These illustrations tell the stories of the every day lives of the refugee children, who, like our own, want to be seen and heard, and have a happy childhood. We invite you to help us change the reality of their lives by buying this book.
The Elifelet Fair: An event to launch "All the Colors of the Rainbow"
Our heartfelt thanks go to Yehuda Atlas and Datia BenDor for donating their poems to our book.
We thank all thirty-nine wonderful illustrators for their willingness and their generosity in giving the best of their talents and creativity and making this magical book come alive: David Polonsky, Rutu Modan, Zeev Englemayer, Inbal Even, Orit Bergman, Amitai Sandy, Michal Tamir Edry, Itamar Daube, Dani Kerman, Michelle Kishka, Naama Benziman, Geffen Rafaeli, Aya Gordon Noy, Shahar Kober, Roni Pahima, Tsahi Farber, Inbal Leitner, Ovadia Benishu, Tamar Moshkovich, Jenny Meilihove, Hilit Shefer, Itzik Rennert, Aviel Basil, Ori Toor, Orit Arif, Ami Rubinger, Yossi Abulafia, Gilad Seliktar, Vali Mintzi, Miki Bencnaan, Amit Treinin, Danielle Peleg, Hadar Reuven, Tali Ylonetzki, Merav Salomon, Netalie Gvirtz, Nir Molad, Noam Nadav and Omer Hoffmann.