Campaign hopes to raise NIS 3.5m. for sick boy

When web page for Karmiel youngster disappeared, PM reached out to embassy in Washington to reinstate it.

By
December 11, 2011 23:38
4 minute read.
CHAIM AVIEL BECKMAN

CHAIM AVIEL BECKMAN 311. (photo credit: Facebook, Reuters)

For five-year-old Chaim Aviel Beckman of Karmiel, playing with a plush elephant toy is a matter of life and death.

“The elephant lives, the elephant lives,” he said, according to his mother’s friend Yochi, a staff member at aid organization Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, which is helping to make sure that Chaim Aviel, too, lives.

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“He was at my house and played with my children’s toys,” Yochi told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night. “I saw that every day is critical for him.”

Chaim Aviel found out earlier this year that he suffers from a rare blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, for which he urgently needs a bone marrow transplant, as his own fails to produce blood cells. To find a match – as none was found among his two little sisters or in the Israeli donor system – approximately 20,000 blood tests needed to be conducted, at a cost of NIS 170 each, or about NIS 3.5 million in total.

Chaim Aviel has about a year of life left if he simply continues with his pill regimen.

Yochi decided that this urgent problem could only be solved with something as powerful as the world’s most ubiquitous social networking tool – Facebook.

On the same day that Chaim Aviel’s mother, Nirit Hakmon Beckman, came into Yochi’s office at Yad Ezra in Karmiel, Yochi decided that the two of them must launch a major campaign to save the boy, despite the fact that she had already starting having contractions ahead of giving birth to a child of her own.

Before she gave birth, Yochi managed to capture a video of Beckman speaking about her son, and immediately after delivery, while still in the hospital, Yochi launched a Facebook page on the boy’s behalf – a Facebook page that became Beckman’s “hope,” her lifeblood, according to Yochi, and has accumulated over 25,000 “likes” and more than NIS 350,000 in contributions.

But all that mysteriously vanished on Thursday, as the Facebook page suddenly disappeared from the Internet, and carried Beckman’s hopes away with it.

Beckman instantly felt “lost,” as the page was “like a virtual family” to her, according to Yochi.

“I was sure that it wouldn’t return,” Beckman told the Post.

But on Thursday evening, Channel 2 aired a report on Chaim Aviel’s case and the disappearance of the Facebook page, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was watching.

“The prime minister was very much moved by what happened and he instructed me to contact Facebook in the United States, and ask them to do what they can to restore the page,” the Prime Minister’s Office director of new media, Eitan Eliram, told the Post.

A national government has a much greater ability to get in contact with the powers-thatbe at Facebook than an individual, he explained. With the help of the Israeli Embassy new media team in Washington, the government was able to accomplish just that about six hours later.

“The team there understood how important it was to restore the page, because it was the boy’s life,” Eliram said.

“Psychologically, [Beckman’s] entire hope to save her son was connected to the Facebook,” he continued. “Once this page was removed or vanished, her hope was gone – because she thought in some way it might be a sign that she would lose her son.”

The page had presumably disappeared due to a technical glitch, according to Eliram, and he was uncertain whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was directly involved with the fix. But Beckman was shocked when the page returned and expressed her gratitude that the prime minister became personally involved. She likened the return of her son’s page to the day in October when Netanyahu returned Gilad Schalit to his family – in this way, he was also taking a step to bring her own son back.

“He’s like a magician,” Beckman said.

Yochi added, “The return of the page brought her happiness.

She is really a new person.”

Since the return of the page, the cause has gained an additional 1,200 “likes.”

Just before she originally launched the Facebook page in April, Yochi gave birth to a child that she now connects in her mind with Chaim Aviel – due to the “bonding of woman to woman” that was created in her instant partnership with Beckman.

Yochi “is an angel with a human body,” Beckman said.

Since then, aside from garnering media coverage, Beckman has distributed flyers, gone from door-to-door soliciting aid and spoken with children in local schools. There is no one in Karmiel who is unaware of Chaim Aviel’s circumstances, she said. Through the Facebook page, Beckman has made instant virtual friendships, and one woman raised NIS 30,000 for the cause at a private initiative organized unbeknownst to Beckman at the Yokne’am mall.

“She [Yochi] naturally converted people to action,” Eliram said. “There’s always this one person who knows how to take the cause do what’s right in their heart, and move people and convert their engagement into action in the real world.”

For Beckman, Facebook has an enormous power to transform ideas into action, something that brings her son one step closer to the bone marrow transplant that he needs to save his life.

“We must find the donor and we don’t have time,” she said.

To learn more about Chaim Aviel’s cause or to send contributions, visit www.facebook.com/HELP.Chaim.Aviel (English), www.facebook.com/aviel.bekman (Hebrew), dial *9171 or e-mail bekmanaviel@gmail.com


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