Crossroad murder of Omer’s father read his story and how One Family camp has enabled him to grow.
“My name is Omer and this is my story. My dad was murdered at the crossroad 14 years ago. We lived 20 minutes outside of Jerusalem in a place called Bik’at HaYarden. He was employed in Tel Aviv, which was one hour from home. One day, on his way back from work, he passed a crossroad called Tzomet Tapuah. This was in 2001, during the Second Intifada. The crossroad was very dangerous; it was common for terrorist attacks, yet my father still drove this route nonetheless. On his way home he was ambushed by three terrorists who were waiting at the side of the road with guns.
They fired seven bullets. Six of them hit the door of the car, but the seventh hit my father in his underarm. It went through his chest, directly to his heart. He died instantly and the car drove off the road. My mother and everyone else looked for him but could not find him. The police eventually found his car on the side of the road and told us he had died. The three terrorists were eventually arrested, and are still in prison.
I have been a part of One Family for as long as I can remember. They have also helped support my family in many ways, including financially, when needed. I have been going to their camps in Israel for nine years already, and attended their camp program . Since the second grade, they have been my second family. I have so many good friends from all over the country and throughout the world, thanks to One Family.
This year I got a tattoo of my father’s initial between two angel wings. His name was Zohar, and he will always be with me.”
How One Family helps
Therapeutic camps, organised three times per year for Israeli children victimised by terror, serve as the core of One Family’s youth activities. Three times per year – during the summer, Chanukah and Pesach vacations – 350 children count on the camps to create stability and continuity in their lives, replacing for a short time the fear and doubt they live with daily.
Many of the counselors are terror victims themselves, and are thus best equipped to ask about little details no one else would ever have remembered. The counselors reintroduce these youngsters to life, and often become almost like a father or mother, brother or sister, maintaining contact throughout the year, as the friend these terrified children need when no one else will do.
Children and teens deal with trauma differently than adults. They hold the same pain inside, but don’t know how to express it. One child at camp last year had been in a terrorist attack just a month earlier. Even his physical wounds had not yet healed completely. He was so angry that he would have fits of violence during the day. It was very scary to watch, but everyone understood. After all, they had been through it themselves. Instead of sending him home when it got rough, the counselors met his needs. This sent a very strong message to the rest of the children that the counselors understood them, and that they were prepared to meet the frustrated pain, which the children wouldn’t otherwise be able to express, with strong patience, deep warmth and unconditional love to pull them through.
And the children thrive on this combination of freedom and personal support. It gives them the courage to explore new friendships at One Family camp – peers who have been through the same experiences, and can understand them like no one else.
Children are organised into groups of 10-15 with one primary counselor, and additional support staff. Groups are divided by age (elementary, middle and high school) and religious observance, to facilitate the children’s comfort and broadest participation in group activities. All groups are brought together for a “happening” during which they enjoy being part of the broader community and renew friendships forged during prior camp seasons.
Summer camp is the longest, at seven days, with a three-day camp taking place each Pesach and Chanukah. The camps take place at different locations throughout Israel, according to the season, at simple guest houses and camping facilities.
The children benefit from a full range of camping activities, each with a therapeutic component, as well as individual and group discussions geared toward helping the campers express their anguish and develop into healthy and contributing adult members of Israeli society.
One Family’s Youth Division constantly evaluates the progress of all its programming through periodic training and support sessions for the counselors, as well as questionnaires at the end of each therapeutic camp in which counselors and parents evaluate the child’s progress and make recommendations for further action. Planning and follow-up sessions take place in the month before and after each camp to provide for a full exchange of information. These training and support sessions also help the programme’s leaders identify difficulties with particular children and work to solve them through creative solutions and outside advice from professionals, such as One Family’s Youth Division team and staff psychologist. The questionnaires also allow the programme’s leaders to make necessary changes to the programme and monitor the progress of children.
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