Shalva National Center has opened its doors to children with disabilities and their families to escape the threat of missile fire amid recent tensions between Israel and Gaza.
Missile attacks – which are especially challenging to people with disabilities, some of whom cannot easily reach missile shelters – have resurfaced during Operation Breaking Dawn.
"My daughter is traumatized. She can't hear the sound of sirens anymore," shared a mother who fled the attacks all the way from Ashkelon. "Because of the situation, I turned to the Ministry of Social Affairs and asked that they evacuate us to a quiet and safe place."
The Shalva Center, an association dedicated to helping people with disabilities, decided to open its building in Jerusalem to help people with disabilities stay safe.
Shalva Regional Center
“People with disabilities are more vulnerable than the general population during life-threatening and traumatic situations due to their limited mobility,” according to CEO Yochanan Samuels. “The Shalva National Crisis Response Center is ready to provide people with disabilities with a comprehensive, immediate response to their needs during periods of national crisis; including physical safety and rehabilitative stability, as well as social and emotional support.”
Israel‘s official National Crisis Response Center for Persons with Disabilities, the Shalva National Center has expansive disability-assistive bomb shelters and rooms. It is currently hosting a number of families from Ashkelon and nearby areas in the country's South.
"I am here with two children in wheelchairs with CP [cerebral palsy]. I don't have a fortified room, and no pending approvals for fortified rooms," said another parent who was evacuated to Shalva. "Even though all we wanted was peace, at Shalva, we also got a lot of love, acceptance and safety."
“Helping families with children with disabilities is embedded in Shalva’s DNA," founder and president Kalman Samuels declared. "And what help can be more essential than possibly saving a human life?”