ICEJ Donates Safe Rooms for Negev Trauma Center

By: Laurina Driesse

Imagine you are a mother on a leisurely stroll down a walking path with your eight-year-old son. Suddenly, you hear the all-too-familiar sound of a click followed by a voice over a public address system. Your heart beats faster! It feels like a thousand butterflies swirling in your stomach. You know what is coming next, as a commanding voice yells: Tseva Adom! Tseva Adom! (“Color Red!”)

There is not even time for the siren. You instinctively know a rocket is coming and you have only a few precious seconds to find shelter. At that moment, your small son starts running after an even younger girl on the path and says: “Mommy, Mommy, she lives far away – I will go and take care of her.” Then he realizes, “but who will take care of me?” and returns to your side.

Sadly, this is a true story and but one example of the harsh reality which Israelis in the southern Israeli town of S’dot Negev live with every day.

S’dot Negev is located within three kilometers of the very volatile Gaza border. Civilians here are confronted by the threat of underground terror tunnels popping up into their area, the constant challenge of explosive balloons flying overhead, and the ever-present fear of Hamas rocket attacks. At times, their area is battered by barrages of up to 300 rockets in one day!

In response, the S’dot Negev Resilience Centre was opened to provide a place of refuge and healing for traumatized families in the community and surrounding region, offering short-term counselling and coping strategies. The clinic manager, Esther Marcos, says their approach is “therapy and treatment for after the effect, but a lot of preventative work as well”.

The work of the Resilience Centre has expanded from four to now twelve qualified therapists working with children, families and groups from across the region. It has seen a recent influx of teenagers and men who are suffering from stress.

The Resilience Centre needed to be enlarged, but first required a safe room to shelter people during a rocket attack. The ICEJ learned of this need and leapt into action.

“We felt such an urgency to help when we understood that those suffering psychological stress were left unprotected when looking for help and healing”, recalled Nicole Yoder, ICEJ Vice President for Aid and Aliyah.

Thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Garth and Tina Coonce of TCT Christian television network in partnership with ICEJ-USA, we were able to build the necessary safe room. It is made of reinforced steel and can withstand a direct rocket hit.

During a special dedication ceremony in early June, an ICEJ team watched as a mezuzah was placed on the door frame along with a dedication plaque expressing our hope that this safe room would “provide protection and comfort to our dear Israeli friends”.

Nicole Yoder immediately noticed how much larger and nicer the whole remodeled facility was now compared to her initial visit. “I can hardly recognize the place”, she told her hosts. “It is great to see what else we helped to happen by giving the shelter room. May this room provide peace of mind”.

Concluding the dedication, Esther Marcos assured us: “The children and families are saying thank you”!