Monday, 8 March 2010

An Eye Opener that Changed a Gut Feeling

On my (long) drive home yesterday I heard on the news an item about a 3-year-old boy who was found wandering the streets of Hadera. As he was wandering across a main road, he was noticed by an Arab Israeli gent, who took responsibility for ensuring that the toddler was brought into the nearest police station.

My gut reaction to hearing the item... "Take the child away from the parents! How terrible is it that some people so neglect their children!"

Yesterday was my first day as Director of Marketing and Resource Development for Yeladim - The Council for the Child in Placement. I began my first day at the organisation with a tour of one of the hostels/homes in Tel Aviv for kids who have been removed by the authorities from homes in which they could not, or should not, be raised.

As an anecdote on the side, I remember little of the swimming lessons I received as a child, except for one, apparently outstanding, event - my father picking me up and throwing me into the water. This is how I felt at midday yesterday - drenched with the substance of the experience from which I had just emerged, a little overwhelmed, and enthused with a feeling of empowerment having seen how much can be done and the profound affect any effort invested can have.

To hear about the family, it turns out, may well draw out a quick instinctual reaction. Having seen the kids, I now realise how that well intentioned, almost Pavlovian, response may well be more self-righteous indignation than an effective solution.

There are 6,500 children and youth under the age of 18 in Israel who have been removed from their homes and who are living in state facilities. The system does try its best in most cases, but the needs greatly overshadow the available resources.

I look forward to seeing what can be done.

Oh, and the end of the story of the tiny wandering Jew: His mother had asked an older sibling to watch him for a minute whilst she took care of the baby. The sister saw the tot running after the skirt-tails of the mother, and assumed the child stayed with her. A small oversight, perhaps, but one that could so easily have ended tragically!

Info about Yeladim can be found here.

No comments: