In direct response to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks, AMIT Children launched “Help Heal the Children of Sderot,” a relief campaign to support one of the central communities AMIT has served for more than 30 years.
This emergency initiative focuses on the epicenter of the attacks and is an urgent call to support Sderot’s children in their time of need.
It focuses on providing early intervention and intensive therapy to those who have been impacted by the violence. Child studies show that the first 30 to 45 days after a trauma is a critical time to get counseling. AMIT responded immediately getting this relief effort underway. In the last eight weeks, more than 2,000 donors have given to the campaign, of which 100% of the money raised goes to Israel.
All public schools in Sderot are under the aegis of AMIT. In the wake of the attacks, more than 4,300 students were evacuated to Eilat and the Dead Sea, as well as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
More than $2 million has been raised for the emergency effort. To date, the total is over and above the annual campaign, which raises as much as $14 million a year to educate AMIT’s 40,000 children annually.
After Oct. 7, AMIT immediately mobilized staff and volunteers not called to the frontlines, using funds raised for early intervention PTSD trauma therapy. AMIT is partnering with experts at the Arbel Institute and other top mental-health service organizations to carry out this critical mission.
It has set up temporary schools and learning centers in the evacuee areas, brought in teachers from other regions to staff these schools and fill in for those on the frontlines, and will continue to provide tutoring and replace computers, clothing, and school supplies for all those who were evacuated and left everything behind. AMIT is staggering school schedules to offset bomb shelter shortages, and alternating between in-person, hybrid and fully remote learning, based on daily safety guidelines from Home Front Command.
Its Tatzam teaching methodology of one teacher to 15 students provides an environment where children feel safe and comfortable, have a sense of belonging and can express themselves. It will serve as a platform for their continuing support services and trauma therapy.
As the major provider of education in Sderot, AMIT’s 257 educators and in-school teams have established strong bonds with each student and family, stressing individualized support.
“As a central part of the Sderot community, AMIT has critical work and a difficult path ahead. Our kids, their families, and our AMIT staff have suffered unimaginable psychological trauma, and early intervention is the only hope to change the course of their lives,” says Shari Safra, president of AMIT. “This is our community, and these are our children. It is important that they know they are not alone, and that AMIT will support them as long as it takes to recover.”
Sderot is in the western Negev, just half a mile from the Gaza border, and has been a target under attack for decades. Some 12,000 rockets have been launched at the city of about 30,500 residents since the year 2000.
To contribute to the initiative, see: amitchildren.org/helpamitheal.