ALEH Returning to Routine: A Final Report Following Operation Pillar of Defense
The residents are back to playing outside. The sound of their laughter echoes through the village after endless days of unnatural stillness that was broken only by the unremitting sounds of sirens, alarms, and explosions. What a joy to be here today, to see the simple happiness of the children as they enjoy the fresh air and the clear blue skies of the expansive outdoors and the village’s beautiful playgrounds!
For anyone of us, having to stay cooped up in a sealed room is upsetting; for our residents, who were not able to comprehend the situation fully, it has been a nightmare. They thrive under the stability of a fixed routine, and the war brought them confusion, fear, chaos, and the incomprehension of being kept indoors and sleeping inside shelters. They may not have understood the gravity of what was happening, but they clearly share our sense of relief now that the immediate danger has passed.
This final report is dedicated to the global ALEH family, who shared in our concern for residents and staff throughout this difficult time. Here are a few highlights of the days following the war:
~ We are pleased to report that all programs, activities and living arrangements have returned to normal. Schools have reopened and are operating at full capacity, and community children have begun to enjoy all the therapies and facilities as before. The Hydrotherapy pool is as popular as ever, and even the Safari, where debris from a rocket hit directly, is back to full functioning order (no animals were hurt during the conflict; we took precautions to keep them safe as well.)
~ Most of the “guests” hosted by ALEH for the duration of the war – disabled people and their families who lacked shelters in their own homes – have returned home, but they plan to keep in touch with their new ALEH friends. The Taiwanese worker injured in the chicken coop near Kisufim is still in ALEH Negev’s Hospital Ward receiving rehabilitative therapies; he too, is much calmer now that the ‘booms’ have stopped.
~ Emergency procedures were reviewed in all ALEH’s facilities, and senior staff met to summarize the events and the level of preparedness and reaction. Any necessary steps based on the conclusions drawn will be implemented in case of any further emergency situation, G-d forbid.
~ A fundraising campaign sent out to supporters proved incredibly successful. Our workers were buoyed by the words of encouragement that poured in together with the generous donations, and we thank every single person who contributed. The funding raised went directly to address the needs stemming from the war – meals and transportation for staff, extra manpower, etc.
~ ALEH’s staff and volunteers have been exemplary in their dedication and commitment, performing their jobs literally under fire, working on duty round the clock, putting their lives on hold to ensure the safety of residents and preserve an air of normalcy and calm. ALEH’s administration is meeting to discuss what kind of tangible compensation we can offer them, beyond our immeasurable gratitude. One plan in the works includes a massage day for the staff of caregivers. In a special twist particularly appropriate for ALEH, the massages will be given by a group of people who are visually impaired, from the “Yadayim Ro’ot” organization (Hands that See). Another initiative is to send the dedicated workers on a retreat up north – for information or to make a contribution towards the vacation retreat, please contact email@example.com.
On the day of the ceasefire, ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran was graced by a visit from a group of women from the north representing the Israel Association of Community Centers. These special visitors braved the final storm of rocket fire to express their support for our children and solidarity with our staff. They led small groups in relaxation exercises, which went a long way towards relieving the stress we had all been under for so long. The staff expressed their delight at the pampering, and more than one caregiver remarked on how nice it was to be on the receiving end after so many days of giving and giving and giving – almost beyond physical limitations.
“This war was all of Israel’s, not just the people in the south,” explained the women, “and that’s why we’re here – to show that we care.”
In summary: Thanks to all of you for caring.
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