In this blog read the story two sisters and how after the loss of her big sister Neta became a counselor with One Family
For each victim of terror, the support offered by One Family is personalised to his or her needs. For some, One Family helps them locate work; for others, OneFamily offers a chance to participate in retreat where they can connect with other victims. Still others, after isolating themselves for many months or even years, may join One Family’s other activites. Read here how we helped Neta.
“My name is Neta, (left), and I am 29 years old. My sister Tali (right) was the oldest of the siblings, 6 years older than me. I was her Barbie doll. She used to dress me up and put make-up on me, and we also wrote songs together. She believed in me like nobody else did. She was my role model. I grew up imagining that one day I would look pretty like Tali, smart like Tali, talented like Tali, surrounded by boys like Tali, become a good student like Tali and an excellent solider like Tali.
One day, when she was coming home for the weekend from the army and waiting at the bus stop, she was shot and murdered by a terrorist. The terrorist was disguised as an Israeli soldier and opened fire into a crowd of civilians. Two others were killed as well, along with 13 injured.
When my sister Tali died, like a thunderstorm on a shiny day, fear and agony were born into our lives, unwelcome…It appeared on our doorstep without permission and walked in taking my sister’s place. This became the new leader in our home…Now that time has passed, we have learned to push them away, into the attic. We don’t want them, they are not Tali, for my sister Tali was good, great and excellent.
If dreams could come true, my only wish would be that my sister Tali could hear me one more time so I could thank her for being there for me, even after all these years – for me, my brothers, my parents, my nephew…Thank you Tali for everything we are today and everything we have.
One Family is my big family now. This organisation was the first to hug us with love and compassion. They helped us get stronger and still do today. They have truly created warmth and solidarity among Israelis who share a national grief. This year, as a counselor with One Family going for my second time to Camp , I can say that our new family, who has embraced One Family, are amazing people, full of love who truly care about us. They have become a part of our story. Thank you.”
What a One Family counsellor does
The counselors in the Young Adults Division come from therapeutic fields and participate in on-going professional training throughout the year. Each counselor is regularly mentored by a senior clinical psychologist.
The counselors function on two levels: Personally providing guidance and counseling to help victims advance toward normative lives – scholastically, emotionally, and in building healthy relationships. And facilitating social programs to build connections between and among the victims, and empowering victims to support and derive strength from each other.
Counselors provide personal counseling, emotional therapy, support groups, guidance in education, direction in choosing a profession, support in achieving professional goals, and emotional and social programming.
The counselors facilitate and participate in the therapeutic retreats in the spring and autumn, summer programs, social events, therapeutic activity groups and special events. One Family counselors provide personal counseling, and a direct, personal presence at family memorial services, family celebrations and home visits.
One Family respite camps
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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