We invite you to delight in the success stories of Emunah’s children, the pride of Israel!
Ami’s Story When EMUNAH/Faith Heals
Ami came to live at the EMUNAH Children’s Home and Center when he was only 6 years old, after his father suddenly passed away and his mother was not able to care for him and his siblings due to suffering from a severe psychiatric illness and needed to be hospitalized. For the past 11 years the EMUNAH Children’s Home in Aful has been the only real home he has known, and the staff and counselors his “parents” and family.
Early on, Ami showed signs of being very distressed. He displayed extreme behavior patterns including: running away, violence to others, depression and suicidal thoughts. At times it seemed as if he would perhaps require psychiatric hospitalization. Only after many years of extensive therapy, nurturing and loving support and understanding by the staff of EMUNAH was Ami able to acquire the confidence and self-esteem necessary to help him heal and become emotionally healthy and whole.
Now, after 11 years, Ami has graduated high school with full credit and is enrolled in a religious teaching college. Though he no longer lives in the EMUNAH Residential Home, he visits often and volunteers his time to help other children break the cycle of despair and abandonment he once felt, thereby Turning His Faith Into Action!
Menachem ‘s Story – A Little EMUNAH Goes a Long Way
A few months short of being drafted by the Israeli Defense Force, Menachem is enjoying a little leisure time in Afula. He has his own private room, a tv, free meals and he gets to hang around with kids all day. What is so remarkable is that Menachem, only a short while ago, was a troubled teen in danger of falling into a world of crime and punishment. But thanks to the important work being done at The Sarah Herzog Emunah Children’s Center in Afula, an initiative of British Emunah, Menachem is now a role model for young boys living in the center.
Menachem immigrated from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Israel with his mother and four brothers when he was four and a half years old. The young family, settled in Haifa, but Menachem did not stay at home for very long.
Living in various boarding schools since the first grade, Menachem lacked the warm family atmosphere that most kids take for granted. Out of desperation Menachem’s mother had begun to beat her children. Having been at the Afula Children’s Center for the past seven years, Menachem eventually made an about face and changed his ways. The turning point came a little over a year ago when he got into a scuffle with the police.
“I started fighting with them so they beat me. They cuffed me and beat again in the patrol car, in the station.” That’s when Shlomo Kessel, the [then] director of the EMUNAH Children’s Home in Afula came to bail him out. ‘I told him ‘I’m not going to kick you out!’’
“If they would have thrown me out then I would have had nowhere to go,” recounts Menachem. “I realized that day that I must become a person,” he reflects, “I had to take myself by the hand,” In the beginning, “I felt like I wanted to escape,” he says thinking back, “but now I understand why.”
Since Menachem’s progress in the last year, he has been given responsibilities on the campus. He helps look after a diverse group of boys, some from Russia, Ethiopia and even Argentina. “I wanted to say thank you. There is no other way to express my gratitude,” Menachem declares. EMUNAH’s motto is Making Life Better – in every sense for all those blameless, mistreated children who deserve a chance for a better future.
UPDATE Since the completion of this article Menachem has joined the army and has completed basic training. Menachem is a certified sharpshooter and serves in a combat unit stationed in Nablus. Menachem has been recognized as a lone soldier and lives on a kibbutz near Afula. Menachem has yet to reconcile with his mother
David’s Story – EMUNAH Never Gave Up On Me
Though he was 12 years old at the time he came to live in an EMUNAH Children’s Home six years ago, David could not read or write. After much hard work and support, David has graduated from high school with full credit and honors! Now, with great pride and joy he will be entering a pre-army preparatory program before joining the IDF next year.
“I was afraid that everyone would think I was stupid when I first came to live at EMUNAH. I used to make trouble at school and be thrown out of the classroom, so nobody would realize that I couldn’t read or write. I would get into fights and be difficult – and all the time I was covering up for the fact that I was embarrassed. At first it was hard for me to make friends because I pushed other people away. The staff at EMUNAH knew that my family situation had been bad. My father had left home and my mother drank too much so she didn’t really take care of me at all. They soon realized that I was covering up my problems.
My counselor arranged for a tutor to help me catch up on all the classes I had missed over many years. They never gave up on me. Slowly I let people get closer and began to trust people and to make friends. It wasn’t easy and it took a long time until I realized I was actually able to keep up with my peers. It felt incredible to succeed and I learned that if I worked hard I could achieve so much. Graduating this year was really something I never imagined would ever happen to me! EMUNAH has given me everything, friends for life and the support I needed to learn to believe in myself.”