The shelter is one of the most unique and amazing communities i've been privileged to see. I work with the kids at the shelter by spending time with them after school, as well as working at the kindergarten class. I was apprehensive at first because I only speak a little hebrew and the kids only speak hebrew, however I quickly realized that the language barrier was not an issue. I have grown an attachment and such a bond with the children regardless of the sometimes miming I do to make sure they understand me. With my time at the shelter, everyday I'm there I see the children grow. The shelter provides a safe-haven for the children, where they can grow, have fun, play, and just be kids! Such an imperative thing with their families experiences. The center is a very special place and I feel lucky to be a small part in it.
Having successfully recovered from an abusive marriage, with the help of my mother and brother, coming to volonteer at the Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter was the realization of a dream. It meant that my children and I, were finally abuse free. My intention, when coming to the Shelter, was to share with the women the idea that there is a life after abuse and that there is a light at the end of their tunnel, just like there was one at the end of mine. Little was I prepared for the humbling learning experience the Shelter offered me. Having been married for 12 years to a man addicted to alcohol and drugs, and who created a life of terror for our 5 children and I, I thought I had seen it all, heard it all, and that I had a monopoly on human suffering. Sadly, the cases of the women at the Shelter opened my eyes to levels of abuse that were on a whole different level. S., at the age of 16 threw herself out of her 3rd floor window, in order to protest her forced marriage, by her parents, to a man she didn't love. Her jump was of little help. A few months later, she was married by force to that same man, and has only to show for her resistance , a foot with shattered bones held in place by metal screws. S.,today, is divorced and living in the Shelter's transitional dwelling apartment, with her 2 little children. She was able to find a good job, and is on her way to leading an independant life. T., was sleeping in her bedroom at age 9, when her father committed suicide in his bedroom. She heard the shot, and that night her life was changed. At 14, she was already working to support her younger siblings. Today,with the help and support of the Shelter, T. has succeeded in keeping her abusive husband away, has gone back to her town and to the job she loved and had to leave, fleeing for her life. Her children are all in therapy and the oldest still refuses to meet his father. W., had to leave her home with her 2 children under the age of 3, because of the life of terror they lived with her husband who was addicted to drugs and who led the family into heavy debt while forging her signature on her personal checks. W., is still being harrassed by her husband's constant legal attacks, but with the support of the Shelter, she is able to assert her rights and raise her children in peace. The pain of the women who come to the Shelter is excruciating. Their self esteem has been shattered. Their lives before getting to the Shelter was hell. Along my visits to the Shelter, I came to see the staff in action. Its dedication and relentless efforts to save and educate the women who live there is truly moving. No classes are spared, whether dealing with parenting issues, building self esteem or how to spot abusive partners. Every person in the staff is available to the women regarding their personal and legal problems. The warmth, the support, and the understanding they display are beyond the line of duty. You can feel the love and the hope these dedicated people instill in them for a new life free of abuse and drama. A life where they stand strong and tall, raising their children in peace and finding their place in mainstream society, leaving the ravages of abuse behind. Please endorse the Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter. It could use any help possible in giving these silenced women a voice that will resonnate throughout the generations.
I work for an Internet company that recently built a new website for the Shelter (as part of our community involvement program). During the work on the shelter's new website (http://www.hwcs.org.il) I have gotten to know the wonderful people behind this blessed initiative and place. Working with them has been an eye opening experience. I was surprised to find the large numbers of women and children who are being abused. It broke my heart. But I also got hope because this shelter is more than a safe haven for them. The Shelter provides so many services in addition to the physical and legal protection to these women and children. It offers them hope and opportunity to get their lives back, to grow, to really live. And it is all done by the hard work, kindness and donations of good hearted people. There are many ailments to this crazy world we live in and many organizations that are doing a blessed, sometimes holy work for people in need, but in my opinion abuse of helpless human beings, namely children (and women) is one of the ultimate acts of evil. The people of the Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter are boldly facing this evil every day to save the lives and sould of these children and women. They deserve an award!
I have been involved as a volunteer for a few years, assisting with odd jobs, deliveries, distribution of donations, fund-raising, and any other help I can provide. The staff and residents are always SO grateful for our help, and you can see that every little bit is a big help. This really makes you pleased to help and gives a good sense of self satisfaction.
This particular organization that is a shelter for young wemen that were force to leave their homes, some with small children, is very much in need for support. The "Home" is in bad need for constant maintenance and repairs and, on my weekly visit to the place, I always feel that ther is a lot more than need to be done. When I leave to go back to my normal home and family, I feel satisfied for what have been accomplished, but very sad for what I left behind.
I visited the shelter about a year ago to take some electrical equipment that had been donated, I saw and met some of the families living there and was impressed with the care and attitude of the staff. Following this, I realised how important their work was and helped in the collection of items from friends and relatives that would be of benefit to families that were being relocated into apartments
Once a year, around the month of May, my friend from Binyamina holds a garage sale, where all the profits are dedicated to the Haifa Women's Crisis Shelter. I, among several other volounteers, am honored to take part of the effort involved with this event, including its publication, gathering items donated from all over Israel (literally all over, from northeren Metula to southern Eilat), arranging the items and eventually setting up the sale event. The effect is heart-warming, as the stuff discarded by one family becomes the gem for another family, and the collected money goes to the worthy cause of bringing some extra joy to the children residing in the shelter. It is always amazing to see how people heartfully donate items, sometimes very expensive items, when they hear about the target. The same generosity is felt from those who volounteer in the event, and those who come to purchase just to show they care. For me it is touching to see members of the shelter's staff come and take part of the event on their own private time and budget, beyond the work in the shelter. I remember a woman that came as a buyer to the sale, and quietly shared her story with us as she was a victim of domestic violence herself, trying to re-build a safe home for herself and her children. We filled her arms with home appliances, and she filled our hearts with hope and strength, to continue and hold the event every year. Seeing the smile on the face of a child in the shelter, who gets much needed school gear or some fun activity is also a priceless motivation.
Me and my twin brother help my mum with making it fun for children that have to live in the shelter. They have to be there because they can not be at home. My brother and I go through our toys and we give them to the children. We have been to the shelter a few times and to see the children play with our things made me happy.
I have been with the shelter for 6 - 7 years now. The shelter is one of the most special places I have come across - they look after and protect women but mainly children from a hard time at home. The nice thing is that they welcomed me into the shelter family and now I feel part of the "family". I help them with getting "stuff" in for the children and the women. I try and get furniture and bits for the ones that are leaving to try and start off a non- violent life in a flat.