Not too long ago, 19-year-old Nofar Borkow was a high school student herself. However, nearly two years in the army has "matured me" and now she is one of around 200 Home Front Command soldiers sent this week to help Ashkelon's children.
The city came under serious missile file for the first time last week. The Jerusalem Post caught up with Borkow on Wednesday, outside the day care center where she had spent the morning.
Borkow is one of 70 soldiers whose job it is to instruct the public on what to do in the event of an emergency. She has received training in handling situations ranging from earthquakes and fires to missiles and terrorism, as well as in providing general emotional support. The entire unit, and 150 teacher-soldiers, were deployed to Ashkelon on Sunday.
"I spent the morning with two- and three-year-olds," she said. "We played with them, drew with them, and just sat with them. At this point, they acted like regular kids."
While she sometimes had been asked to speak about what to do in emergencies, Borkow said her orders included providing moral support as much as anything else.
"On Monday, I was at a school with the sixth-graders. The girls refused to move away from the fortified wall. We calmed them down and got them to relax.
"I go into classrooms and tell them that if they want to talk about anything, I am here. Many come out and talk to me. I talk to them about the situation, but also about their lives in general," Borkow said.
A lot of it was intuition rather than training, she admitted.
"People will come up to me on the street and talk to me," she said, stressing how important it was to Ashkelon residents to see soldiers in uniform moving about the city.
She said she was not afraid to be in range of the missiles.
"It doesn't frighten me. I've been through a Color Red warning. I believe that what I am teaching about how to act in emergencies is correct," she said with a shrug.
Borkow said she thought local residents had been shocked by the missiles but had become determined to continue life as usual. Borkow did not know when she and her unit would be reassigned somewhere else.