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Emergency Response Update- October 15

Israel is now in the second week of war. Dror Israel's youth counseling are working in 19 different evacuee centers for those who fled their homes in the Gaza border area. Therapeutic and fun educational activity is psychological first aid for children who experienced the horrors. Dror Israel will be with them for their rehabilitation in the long term, and that of their communities.

In underprivileged communities where people don't have safe rooms in their homes, experienced Dror Israel educators are running therapeutic and educational programs for children and families. Yoav Rahav from Dror Israel’s Ashkelon Educators Community has been running programming since last Saturday in public shelters throughout the city.

Yoav shared about about the recent days:

"A little before Yom Kippur, we, the Dror Israel educators in Ashkelon, met to outline plans for our activities in the event of future escalation with Gaza. We had learned lessons from 'Operation Protective Edge' and felt that we were getting close to another escalation, so we needed to be prepared. We had preliminary discussions with friends about what to do in the city and whether they would travel north. We began preparing materials, decided to connect with the municipality and take responsibility for the children of employees from the nearby Barzelai Hospital, and write an activity booklet based on the lessons we had learned from our programs during previous rounds of rocket fire. We decided to learn about the political and security situation so that we could act with a better understanding of it. We had hoped we would be able to schedule a date for the beginning of October with a resilience center to learn coping skills for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Yoav running activities in Ashkelon bomb Shelter

We didn't anticipate the speed and scale of the disaster that would unfold. Now, we are trying to learn how to manage within it.

After the first air raid siren on Saturday morning, we started following the guidelines we were given. We made sure the young parents among us were safe, said our goodbyes to the many friends who were called up to their reserve units, and gathered together those who remained. We initiated activities for the children of Barzelai’s hospital workers and did what was needed in the municipal Homefront Command. We tried to support each other both physically and emotionally. In the last few days we’ve expanded our program and have invited the children of medical workers and doctors from the clinics in the city.

We hear heart-wrenching stories about the communities in the Gaza border area, which many of us have visited over the years and whose kibbutzim have led us in our actions from their founding to the present day.

I hope we will know a better and safer reality. I wish for the IDF soldiers to keep us safe and return safely. I promise to do everything in my power here on the home front."

Rony Bahat, from Dror Israel’s Tel Aviv Educators Community, has spent this past week organizing therapeutic and fun activities for evacuees from the Gaza border area who are currently hosted in the dorms of Beit Berl college.

Dror Israel educators with evacuees hosted at Beit Berl College

Rony shared about her experience: "The programming is fun and relaxing for them and also for us. We help them to release energy, relieve stress, and play games of catch. Together we’ve been watching nature shows instead of the news. Some of the children are already able to process what's happening around them. When we’re drawing or playing together, they tell us about how Hamas came to their neighborhood and how they were really mean and not nice to them. They tell us about the 'balloon' (rocket) that fell in their house or car. We put on a play- 'Ayelet the Traveler' with 10 kids aged 4-10. The older kids helped the younger ones figure out what to say, they helped them dress, and they invited their parents to come see them perform. The children were lovely and it was really moving.

Evacuated kids putting on a play for their parents.

Their parents also need to unwind and process. While the children are in the activity, one of the Dror Israel educators sits and talks to the adults, allowing them to relax and talk about their experiences."

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