Giving children a brighter tomorrow
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Giving children a brighter tomorrow

Judy Elkus speaks to Moshe Dolev of Israel-based charity Hamifal, which provides care for at risk and homeless children

Every child deserves a safe, warm home where their physical and emotional needs are met. But what happens when a child’s parents cannot, or will not, look after them? When the child suffers neglect, abuse or abandonment? For children like these, Hamifal is there to help.

Founded in 1943 by the late Recha Freier, Hamifal is a national organisation in Israel that cares for children at risk, rehabilitating and educating them through a combination of social programmes, therapeutic and educational projects and healthcare.

Today, Hamifal has 16 facilities across Israel, including 11 dedicated Children’s Villages, five family group homes and three after-school care centres.

“When children come to us, they leave behind parents who may be alcoholics, criminals or drug addicts,” says Moshe Dolev, director general of Hamifal.

“They have suffered from deficient parenting, violence, neglect or rejection, or even sexual abuse, as a result of which they may lack basic trust, have low self-image and be at risk of dropping out of school, poor language development, aggression and anger and, in extreme cases, suicide.

“But, we get through to them and set them back on track.”

Key to the Hamifal approach is what the charity describes as the educational family model, whereby children live in a family group setting, enabling them to experience the positive childhood and nurturing environment they lacked at home.

Twelve children live together as siblings, with a foster couple and their biological
children living in an adjacent apartment.

They share communal areas, daily chores and a routine lifestyle.

A tailor-made care plan is created for each child by a professional team of psychologists, social workers, therapists and special education teachers and instructors, together with the foster couple.

Wherever possible, contact is encouraged with the biological parents, who are also offered counselling to help them cope better.

“Our goal is to educate and rehabilitate children at risk, helping them to reach their potential and grow into independent, empowered adults,” says Moshe.

“We see outstanding results from our care and therapeutic programmes – the vast majority of our children complete high school with a full matriculation certificate, carry out their national service, integrate successfully into society and go on to lead happy, fulfilled lives with families of their own.”

  • To find out more about Hamifal and how you can support its vital work, visit hamifal.org.il

Hamifal in focus:

  • 16 facilities around Israel
  • 950 children
  • 77% are referred by welfare authorities
  • 23% arrive under court order
  • 21% are victims of physical abuse
  • 16% are from immigrant families
  • 12% are orphans
  • 9% have been abandoned
  • 6% are victims of sexual abuse