November 12, 2007 / 2 Kislev 5768
Adi Benaim works as a Jewish Agency Youth Futures Trustee guiding and encouraging Israel's children at risk, who number more than 350,000, in order to change their lives and their thinking patterns and to see all the possibilities that exist for them.
Adi Benaim, 25, grew up in the Gaza perimeter city of Sderot and, in marked contrast to those raised there today, she remembers the city as a quiet place. “I had a good childhood,” says Adi. “Sderot was a small place without worries. Things weren’t like they are now.” She is referring to the incessant barrage of Kassam rockets that have plagued Sderot for the past seven years, turning the city into a virtual ghost town where the sounds of the red alarm that warn of incoming rockets are heard on a daily basis.
Today, Adi works as a Trustee or counselor for 15 at risk boys and girls in the fourth grade as part of the Jewish Agency flagship Youth Futures program. The program, made possible through the generous support of Federations across North America, the communities of Keren Hayesod–UIA and donors in Israel and around the world, began in Sderot this past July.
As part of her job training, Adi was taught how to help the children deal with the trauma and anxiety of their daily lives. But, Adi says that she has barely had to make use of the techniques she learned. “I have been with the kids when the sirens go off and they do not go into hysterics or anything like that. The saddest part is that they have gotten used to it – they just go to the nearest shelter or secure place and wait for it to end.”
Youth Futures is a national program, operating in 26 localities and serving more than 5,000 youth each year. It is the only program designed to assist children and their families by ensuring access to all available social and communal resources. As a Trustee, Adi both coordinates these resources and serves as a role model and mentor for those in her group. This includes everything from helping them with homework and planning group enrichment activities to visiting them at their homes and schools and staying in close contact with their parents, teachers and social workers.
“These kids come from difficult situations and part of our goal is to get them to open up and develop relationships with them,” says Adi. “Youth Futures is a program that really contributes to their lives – I can already see the impact it is having just in the happy way they react when they see me.”
Help Adi and thousands of young activists like her who are devoting their lives to making Israel a more just society. They have set out to help Israel’s children are at risk in the framework of the Jewish Agency's Youth Futures, an unprecedented program of national scope that ensures that children at risk are given comprehensive, high-impact tailored intervention that will allow them to take their place as independent, constructive members of society. Donate here.
To learn more about Youth Futures, click here.