Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW)
Jamie Varon is a freelance writer known for telling it like it is. So when she published her article on the “20 Real Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was a Teenage Girl” many women took notice.
Jamie notes a series of challenges girls are faced with from seeing women in magazines that do not look like you, whether they are taller, thinner, have clearer skin, and so on, to dealing with feelings of unexpected sadness as you overcome new obstacles.
The thoughts, experiences, and encounters that Jamie lists are prominent in our society and continue to become further embedded in the fabric of our communities. The reality is that from a young age, girls are faced with many challenges: from body issues, to struggles with confidence, peer pressure, and the desire to fit in, just to name a few.
Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) puts emphasis on addressing these societal truths and finding real ways to assist young girls and women in living with, tackling, and overcoming them. One way that CHW aims to combat these issues is through the Empowerment Program for Girls at-Risk at CHW Hadassim Children and Youth Village.
This is a powerful program as it reaches out to girls from the dormitories and family units who are already coming from challenging backgrounds. These girls have not been given the support, nor the tools for handling these issues psychologically, emotionally, and physically. In this program, the girls are taught to appreciate themselves, how to approach feelings of insecurity, how to react to an insult, peer pressure, and so on. These values and skills equip these young and impressionable girls with the ability to tackle challenges that may come their way.
Orian is one of the girls who participated in this program. Orian grew up in the Girls at-Risk Family Unit. She shares her experience, “Since I can remember, I always struggled with my confidence. I would look in the mirror and then in magazines and not understand why I did not look like these girls. The mother of my Family Unit encouraged me to attend the Empowerment Program. I went and suddenly found myself surrounded by other girls who felt the same way. I learnt how to embrace who I am and actually like myself! I gained confidence. But even more, I learnt to stop putting so much emphasis on the way I look; it is what is inside that counts.”
As the leaves begin to turn and we welcome October, we can look forward to the celebration of many holidays and events. October also signifies the commencement of another important event: international Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This campaign has a strong connection to Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW). CHW proudly funds and continues to support the M. Fanny Comprehensive Breast Care Institute at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center.
At this institute, which is the only one of its kind in Israel, women receive same-day results and are given immediate diagnosis and treatment plans.
The establishment of this unit promotes healthcare as well as serves to better assist women in their day-to-day lives. CHW is proud to be playing an integral role in the fight against breast cancer.
Ensuring children receive love and care is an undertaking that CHW is proud to be a part of.
There is so much that we know about childhood development, and yet, there continues to be a great deal that requires more research and understanding. One area that is critical to a child’s well-being and growth is the relationships that they develop from an early age with their primary caregivers, which are often their mothers.
This important connection was recently illustrated in a powerful video where children were tasked with guessing who their mothers were solely based on touch. The results were remarkable and extremely moving: both for the mothers and the audience. What was demonstrated was the strong bond that a child creates with his or her mother.
CHW provides this level of care through many of our projects; from our six daycare centres throughout Israel, to our two youth villages, CHW Hadassim and Nahalal, which take in at-risk youth, or through CHW Netanya Technological High School, which caters to children who face overwhelming difficulties and struggles in their day-to-day livse.
There is so much to take away from this video. One critical message is that love is not communicated in a singular language: it is something that we all feel and need for our survival.
Miriam’s Story – “The shelter saved my life.”
Domestic violence is an issue that continues to plague Israeli society. What makes this even more severe is the reality that the majority of female victims of domestic violence do not come forward, so they suffer in silence.
CHW, in its collaboration with World WIZO, helps to support shelters for victims of domestic violence, specifically for women and their children who have escaped a violent and dangerous home.
*Miriam and her four children turned to the shelter in their time of need; they are examples of the lives CHW helped to save through its support of shelters in Israel.
Miriam is 31 years old. She was happily married with a beautiful, growing, family; she had it all. However, during Miriam’s fourth pregnancy, her husband became increasingly violent; at one point hitting her in the stomach. When Miriam’s husband turned his violence towards their children, she knew she had to leave.
Initially, Miriam and her children went to her parent’s home for security. However, realizing that they were not safe there, Miriam sought refuge at a WIZO shelter.
The shelter gave Miriam the support and assistance that she was in dire need of. With the guidance and assistance from the dedicated staff, Miriam regained her confidence and sense of self-worth. Miriam took classes on how to become an independent parent. The social workers and psychologists helped Miriam to overcome her immense feelings of guilt for having exposed her children and unborn baby to such violence.
While Miriam was receiving this help, her children were being well looked after. Miriam could rebuild herself and her life while resting assured that her children were in a safe and positive environment.
Moreover, Miriam took part in group therapy at the shelter. This type of therapy helped Miriam to realize that she was not alone and other women, just like her, had gone through similar abuse.
Miriam shares, “The shelter helped me to regain my life in every aspect, I could finally breathe again.”
Today, Miriam has reclaimed her life. She has a secure job that allows her to be self-sufficient, provide for her children, and live a safe and happy life. Miriam is one of thousands of women whose lives have been saved by a CHW supported WIZO shelter. Stories like Miriam’s are what reinforce why we need to continue to support these projects.
*Miriam’s name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.
Photo: Anton Petukhov
One year ago, a six-year-old girl named Aya Salef from Ramallah became extremely ill after accidentally drinking a poisonous acid that she found in her home. Aya was rushed to the emergency room at a hospital in Ramallah to be treated, however, the doctors believed that there was little that could be done to return little Aya to good health.
After undergoing 12 surgeries, Aya was still only able to eat through a tube. Mustafa, Aya’s father, knew that there was no way he could let his daughter live a life in this kind of condition. Mustafa recalls, “Aya would look at the other children playing and eating normally; and sadness would come over her. Aya could not eat solid foods due to the damage she had done to her stomach after drinking the poison.” It was at this time that Mustafa brought Aya to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center for help.
Dr. Gad Lotan, the Head of the Pediatric Department at Assaf Harofeh, treated Aya and shared:
“I and team of doctors worked to find a solution for Aya. We realized that we could move the stomach higher, to the chest, away from the thorax; allowing Aya to eat solid foods again.”
Dr. Lotan explained that this was a very intense procedure, and would require an extensive amount of recovery; they decided to go through with it. After a year at Assaf Harofeh, and a very challenging recovery process, Aya was finally released from the hospital and allowed to return home. Aya is now a healthy seven year old that is able to eat solid foods, play with other children, enjoy her childhood, and have the chance to grow into a healthy and capable young woman.
Mustafa recalls that leaving the Palestinian governed territory and arriving into Israel was life changing for him and his family. He was welcomed at Assaf Harofeh and felt that his daughter received the best healthcare one could find. He says of the experience:
“Thank you Assaf Harofeh for giving my little girl her life back. You saved my family.”