The husband and children of Dafna Meir, 38, mourn near her body during her funeral ceremony in Otniel, January 18, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
“Often children at risk have nobody to speak out for them, but Dafna was their voice,” Orit Amiel, Director of Foster Care Families at the Summit Institute told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Dafna Meir, who was tragically murdered outside her home in Otniel on Sunday, left behind her husband Nathan and six children, of which, the youngest, aged four and six, are foster children.
“They are a very special family that a few years ago decided to open their home and join the foster care community,” Amiel said.
“They did this from their own desire and in the middle of their life – they took in children that were in need of care and they did this in the best possible way,” she said.
Amiel, as director of the foster care unit at the Summit Institute, offered guidance and support to the Meir family throughout this process.
“The deed to open their home and take in children is not an easy undertaking,” she explained.
While she could not discuss the specific details of the family’s case, she said that all foster care families in Israel must undergo a rigorous screening process and participate in courses and workshops in order to take in children at risk.
“The family was very involved in the foster care community – they are a family that cares,” said Amiel.
“They attended seminars and workshops to receive the right guidance – all for the good of the children, to fight for the children to get the best education – this is not something that can be taken for granted,” she said.
“It is very difficult for me to speak about Dafna in the past tense, this was a wonderful family who did a wonderful deed – that was cut down at its peak,” she said.
Amiel remembered Dafna as a “special lady” who was a “natural caregiver who took care of people.”
“Dafna was also raised in foster care, so she knew what it meant, and the sensitivity and desire to give back to the community were enhanced in her,” she said.
“And she, along with her husband and family, decided to give back to the community just as the community did for her,” she added.
When asked what will happen now to the two young children in the wake of the tragedy, Amiel responded that “it is not the time to make decisions.”
“This is the time to think about the family and try to help wherever we can,” she said. “We will try to continue and offer our support so that the children will be able to continue being a part of this family.”
“I want to give a huge hug and send strength to this entire wonderful family and to all the families in Otniel and to all the foster families in Israel,” Amiel said.
“It is not simple to in the middle of your life stand up and say I want to do a good deed – and that is what Dafna did,” she said.
“There are many children, like those taken in by Dafna, that are waiting to find good foster homes. If we take a little bit of her light and spread it around maybe some good can come from this terrible tragedy.”