Jewish Agency to assist Gush Katif evacuees

The Jewish Agency announced Wednesday at its annual board of governors meeting that they will spend NIS 6.5 million to assist the evacuees of Gush Katif. "Because the evacuees went through a very difficult trauma,we need to assemble all of the actors: the government, private citizens and volunteer organizations to assist them to return their lives to routine," declared Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski. The money will mostly go towards educational support, psychological training and financial assistance. For example, the agency will provide students with scholarships for higher education. The organization will also subsidize summer camps and provide school supplies to children in desperate financial straits. Children will also be able to avail themselves of trauma assistance services. A special initiative by the Jewish community of Chicago will provide therapy to children who have suffered from depression after being affected by both terrorist attacks and being expelled from their homes. The Jewish Agency will also help people still struggling financially following the disengagement. These programs will include job training and financial assistance to those who are starting a new business. Dror Vanunu, international coordinator for Friends of Gush Katif, praised the decision and was especially pleased by the effective coordination between the two organizations. However, he lamented that "two years have passed and we are far from a solution."