Giving Israeli youth under rocket threat a 'safe haven'

Meir Panim Youth Centers are built in existing bomb shelters in Sderot, making them friendlier and more welcoming places, rather than rooms that represent panic and fear.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
September 6, 2016 09:42
2 minute read.
Sderot

Israeli children take cover in a shelter as a warning siren for incoming rockets is sounded in the southern town of Sderot. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

According to a recent study, about 70 percent of children in Sderot, a city less than a mile from the Gaza Strip that frequently comes under Kassam rocket fire, suffer from symptoms of anxiety, fear and PTSD. Meir Panim, an organization that was established to help diminish the harmful effects of poverty in Israel, has refurbished a bomb shelter into a Youth Club in Sderot to alleviate the trauma that plagues the children in this community. In the following article, JPost looks at the facility that addresses the needs of young adults who have experienced their childhoods under fire, and examines the ways in which such a lifestyle has affected their lives today.

"Tzeva Adom." "Tzeva Adom."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Imagine sitting at Shabbat dinner when these words ring around the city. You freeze for a second but check back when you realize you must move, and move quickly, to get to the nearest bomb shelter. For families living in Sderot, these situations happen all too frequently.

Aside from the temporary physical damage inflicted on Sderot communities by Kassam rockets, such threats and attacks also leave permanent psychological destruction within its citizens.

According to a recent study, about 70 percent of children in Sderot, a city less than a mile from the Gaza Strip that frequently comes under Kassam rocket fire, suffer from symptoms of anxiety, fear and PTSD.

In an effort to help children growing up in these communities cope with the threats and trauma, Meir Panim, an organization that was established to help alleviate and diminish the harmful effects of poverty in Israel, has refurbished a bomb shelter into a Youth Club in the Ben Gurion neighborhood in Sderot.

Meir Panim is best-known for its chain of restaurant-style soup kitchens and meals-on-wheels food delivery programs throughout Israel, but it also runs several other programs benefiting Israel’s children in need, including after-school clubs and summer camps.


Because of their well-known community work, the Municipality of Sderot chose the organization to build the program of “safe haven” youth centers.

The youth centers are built in existing bomb shelters, allowing Meir Panim to reconfigure bomb shelters into more welcoming and friendly places, rather than a room that represents panic and fear.

The shelters provide a safe space where children aged 12-18 years can come to relax, do homework, participate in recreational activities, and receive professional mentoring. Staff members work with at-risk youth to help them create and meet personal, academic and professional goals.

The renovated bomb shelters have full amenities and provide meals, as many at-risk youth come from impoverished homes where food is not always available.

According to interviews with Meir Panim, the goal has been to empower the youth of Sderot to aspire to greater heights and to become accomplished and adjusted members of Israeli society.

In order to allow Meir Panim help these children and others, all you have to do is join in with a symbolic contribution as you see fit. Click here to take part in this important project
.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

The ‘Jubilee at the Kotel’ photo exhibition
December 19, 2018
Analysis: Progressive movement still waiting for real solution on egalitarian section of Kotel

By JEREMY SHARON