Charities hit the ground running in Israel

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Charities hit the ground running in Israel

MDA, WIZO and MyIsrael are among the charities that sprang into action immediately after the terrorist attack on 7 October

Louisa Walters is Features Editor at the Jewish News and specialises in food and travel writing

MDA ambulance arrives at Ben Gurion
MDA ambulance arrives at Ben Gurion

MDA UK took the unprecedented decision to break Shabbat and Yomtov to launch a fundraising campaign within a few hours of the terrorist attack on 7 October. Every single penny is being sent to Israel, where MDA is running at 100 percent capacity at a cost of £250,000 per day.

Since the beginning of the war, MDA forces have treated thousands of people, including MDA personnel who were involved in saving lives. About 1,400 MDA ambulances, including bulletproof ambulances, are manned by MDA volunteers and employees. MDA has collected over 31,000 units of blood from volunteer donors and MDA helicopters have carried out dozens of missions to evacuate wounded civilians and soldiers from the south to hospitals throughout the country.

“We meed more ambulances to fulfill the demand,” says MDAUK CEO Daniel Burger. “Eight of our vehicles have been blown up. The terrorists tried to steal one to infiltrate the kibbutz and when they couldn’t they blew it up. Three of our medics have been murdered – one was shot at in an ambulance, which is a deliberate flouting of the Geneva Convention.”

MDA has brought out of storage some ‘retired’ vehicles and also air freighted more over from the USA .

With increasingly limited staff due to many being called up for reserve duty, WIZO is still fully operational in helping those in need in Israel.

WIZO volunteer Sergeant Agmom

“Devastatingly, many volunteers and graduates of  WIZO schools have been killed, says WIZOUK CEO Maureen Fisher. “Among them was Bar Tomer, a volunteer in our secondhand shops. Bar was missing for many days and was later found to have been killed. She took part in the music festival and was with her friend Noam Shalom who also died.”

Maureen has paid tribute to may others who lost their lives. Tomer Segev, 30, a nephew of a WIZO staff member was murdered during the music festival. Alezander Masli, a graduate of WIZO Ni Ha’Emek – who made aliyah from Ukraine with his parents and siblings only a few years ago, was killed in the line of duty as was Captain Youtam Ben-Basat, son of one of the chief administrators of two WIZO youth villages and Sgt Schager Taka, 21, graduate of WIZO Nachlat Yehuda. Paratrooper Brigade Sergeant Adam Agmon who volunteered at WIZO’s Ahuzat Yeladim for a year and police detective Yakir Bluchman, a graduate of WIZO Youth Village Nachlat Yehuda, also also their lives.”

Bar Tomer worked in a WIZO secondhand shop

WIZO is aiding and housing refugees from the south of Israel who have been displaced, caring for the children of medical professionals, providing safety and mental health support for hundreds of youth in its care and sending food and supplies to soldiers.

All educational institutions in Israel are shut down, but over 300 at-risk youth remain in WIZO’s youth villages and other institutions. These include around 200 foreign students from the Na’ale programme who have moved to Israel before their families and have nowhere else to go. In addition, with special approval from Home Front Command, WIZO is now operating 10 WIZO centres in or near hospitals so that medical professionals can devote themselves to their life-saving work.

The Youth Village in Pet Hatikvah is welcoming families evacuated from the south of Israel while The Parents Home in in Tel Aviv is providing temporary shelter for the evacuated elderly who need specialised housing. A telephone hotline provides everything from emotional support for women and men whose partners have been called up to reserve duty, to helping with shopping and WIZOUK has committed to provide at least one mobile bomb shelter for the Youth Villages.

MyIsrael supports 18 charities in Israel. “Most of these have reverted to lockdown working practices and I, too, am working from my dining room table with my kids at home,” says project co-ordinator Eli Rudolph. “One of the organisations which has been hardest hit is Family Net in Ashkelon, which supports very poor families. There is an immediate need for laptops so that kids can be schooled at home and also for people to keep in touch with the outside world. Beit Daniella, an organisation that  helps children who have been institutionalised, has had to shut its premises because it does not have a central shelter. We are helping to fund one but even when we have the money it can take 45 days to build it.”

IDF soldier receives medical supplies form MyIsrael

In most cases immediate needs are being taken care of by the local municipality or other organisations so MyIsrael is careful to send funds where they are needed most.

“We are receiving hundreds of requests and we are vetting every one to ensure it’s not being fulfilled by another means. We are also aware that we need to hold some money back because we know more help will be needed further down the line – for example mothers will need respite days and therapy.

Funds are being raised for therapy dolls

“One of our projects, Click, organises social and and vocational activities for the elderly and we have utilised this to prepare activity kits for children in the south. The therapy animals we work with are hugely distressed by all the sirens and we are now providing therapy dolls for children.

“We have also used funds to provide for soldiers who got called up immediately and didn’t have time to pack anything – they need mattresses, coffee pods, portable chargers even simple medical supplies like paracetamol and ibuprofen. We even had a request from a dad to supply a birthday present to his child who was evacuated.”



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