January 11, 2009 / 15 Tevet 5769
My name is Adi Cohen and I work as a "Trustee" in the Youth Futures Program in Beer Sheva, Israel. I would like to describe to you our situation during these tense times, which has become very difficult and complicated.
For security purposes the Beer Sheva municipality has closed all schools until the situation in the region becomes more stable. Hence, the Youth Future children must stay at home at all times, next to security zones, so that they can be protected in case of bombings / attacks. The only people allowed to leave their homes to go to work are those who are in special positions and have security armaments.
In the last week we have been on continuous high alert. It has become extremely important during this intense period for the Trustees to keep in touch with their Youth Future children. Our new responsibilities include speaking to them daily over the phone, trying to calm them down and supporting both the children and their families in every possible way by giving them a great deal of understanding, empathy and warmth.
We also go on numerous home visits, play with the children, try to keep them physically active and make sure they are all fine mentally. Last week the Youth Future trustees were given an entire day of training with psychologists and psychotherapists so as to provide us with the tools we need to work with the situations we are confronting, such as fear and anxiety that our children and families are going through. We were also taught how to identify trauma situations and received addresses and phone contacts of experts who can help us manage these situations.
I would like to share with you a note that was written to me from one of my 5th grade students I work with, describing his feelings and experiences from this past week. The child wrote the following: "These days I am feeling so vulnerable, but what is helping me overcome my fears is my family, my father and uncles. I am playing with my little sister and trying to protect her. Most of the time all I can do is watch tv and play with my computer. My trustee helps me too. She comes to visit me at my home and it helps me a lot. It was so much fun. The best part was that we all played together: my little sister, my trustee and me. It helps us forget for a little while. My trustee is so kind and helpful.”
During this difficult time all of the Trustees are working very hard to find creative ways to spend more time with the children and keep them busy. Our biggest problem is that they have already missed more then two weeks of school, and are bored having to stay in their homes all day and not being allowed to go outside to play. I hope and I believe that we will find more ideas and activities that will help the YF children go through these difficult times in the best possible way.
Youth Future Trustee