There are times when you notice the quality of an item, product or organization and you deep appreciate it. This is how I felt yesterday when we visited a 200 child orphanage in Netanya, Israel. Normally, the words “quality” and “orphanage” don’t go together, but at Emunah Bet Elazraki Children’s Home they do. This children’s home is 65% government supported, but it is the 35% raised from outside sources that makes all the difference.
This children’s’ home seek is to break the cycle of “distress” that becomes generational when children end up in the same life situations and crises their parents did for the same reasons. Bet Elazaki is based on three pillar:
- Recognizing a child’s potential: This has to do with seeing a child who is without parents (for various reasons) not as damage or broken, but seeing them as capable of achieving great things and being important people regardless of their lose. At Bet Elazraki the 200-250 children are provided 50 tutors to help make them the best and most desirable students in the 27 schools which they attend. They are given new clothes to wear to school so they are not looked at as the “poor kids.” They are clean and well groomed so other children will want to be their friends. This all has to do with giving them everything they need to succeed in school, peer groups and life in general.
- Stability: At Bet Elaraki has taken in children as early as 5 days old. They are the only emergency children home in Israel. It is from day one that the director, the staff and the volunteer pledge to be family for these kids for the rest of their lives. They are not cared for until they are 18 then kicked out, but they are cared for after they turn 18, when they graduate college, when they fall in love and when they have families and kids. The director, Yehuda Cohen (above), has attended many weddings, births and promotions ceremonies of his hundreds of “children” and has over 60 grandchildren. This kind of security and stability reenforces that the children who come to Bet Elaraki are not alone and never will be alone.
- Emotional Care: Only after have the staff has revealed a child’s potential and built up their self esteem and established a long term trajectory for them to live out are the social workers and psychologist brought in to help the children work through issues of abandonment, guilt and to help answer the question, “why me?” Unlike the foster care system in the United States, this is the last step in the process not the first.
All of this points to the quality of the care, supervision and love given to these kids who at such young ages have lost so much.
It was our privilege to yesterday to visit these children in their home. When we entered Bet Elazraki’s atrium to see the children, currently ages 4-18, we were greeted with shouts, cheers and the applause of honored guests. It was all a bit overwhelming to be honest. After the children performed a few songs for us in Hebrew and English, our team’s worship team share a few songs. We then sat down with the children to do some crafts before eating lunch.
Seeing all the various faculties and the passion of the staff made it clear that loving these kids and breaking the cycle of distress was not a job for the staff, but their mission in life.