The Israel Crisis Management Center (SELAH) has activated its 650 volunteers to provide crisis assistance to people in Northern Israel facing emergencies as a result of the missile attacks that began six days ago.
SELAH is Israel’s only countrywide volunteer network of assistance and support for new immigrants hit by sudden crisis, terror or tragedy. A safety net for newcomers without the support system of family and friends, SELAH, since it’s founding in 1993, has helped over 14,000 distressed immigrants. SELAH provides short and long term assistance to this population.
With half the population of Israel under threat, SELAH is today responding to the emergencies being faced by new immigrants who have no family or friends to call on in this time of trouble, some who have already suffered tragedy – and readying itself for the consequences of a crisis that is escalating by the hour.
SELAH is providing cash, along with care and comfort. With experienced volunteer emergency teams dispatched in the North, including physicians, psychiatrists, social workers, they are providing financial and practical aid, visiting people in hospitals and homes, and helping to evacuate people in danger who can’t manage on their own.
Additionally, SELAH has mobilized teams in the southern towns of Sderot and Ashkelon as well as the smaller communities at risk, and has made trauma professionals available for 24/7 countrywide telephone response to immediate emergencies. Since the posting of SELAH operated emergency numbers, hundreds of immigrants have called asking for help.
“There is a large-scale need for practical assistance in the cities and towns throughout Israel being attacked. In addition to the military response, there is a tremendous need to help families facing significant emergency,” said SELAH Executive Director Ruth Bar-On. “The state of emergency declared in the North presents special problems for immigrants, particularly the most vulnerable, such as grandparents raising their orphaned grandchildren or those who are seriously ill and need medications or on-going medical treatment. Our volunteers are delivering prescriptions or transporting people for medical treatments because pharmacies are closed or taxis not in operation.”
“When one family from the North called in to say they had arrived in Netanya, with no place to go, a SELAH volunteer took them into her home,” said Bar-On. “It turns out that volunteer was Vica Wieselman, who lost her husband in a terror attack in Netanya in May of 2002.”
Examples of some of the people SELAH is providing assistance to during this conflict:
The family whose mother and five children were injured, one of them seriously, hospitalized in two separate medical facilities. SELAH brought emergency funds to the frantic father, provided them with a mobile phone, and arranged for a stroller to be purchased so the mother could have her baby next to her in the hospital room.
The grandparents from a town under fire who wanted to ensure the safety of the orphaned granddaughter in their care. SELAH arranged transportation to a safer place in the center of the country.
The elderly heart patient who couldn’t get his prescription filled because all the pharmacies in his town had shut down. SELAH’s volunteer physician helped him get his life-saving medication and gave the man an injection.
The young woman in her sixth month of pregnancy, hospitalized along with her mother after their apartment was hit by a katyusha rocket. Volunteers were by their side in the hospital, bringing comfort along with financial help, facilitating the transfer of medical records that would help doctors maximize the chances of the injured woman’s unborn child.
The 94-year-old wheelchair-bound immigrant woman who had to be evacuated when her house was hit by the shockwaves of a katyusha rocket. Volunteers brought her to safety.
The Ethiopian man injured by shrapnel, in the country for only three months. When he was released from the hospital, SELAH brought him back to his home in our emergency van. Our Amharic-speaking volunteer was able to communicate with him in the only language he knows.
The oncology patient weakened by illness, lying in an apartment in an area that was barraged with rockets. SELAH provided an ambulance to move her on a stretcher to a relative’s home in the center of Israel.
“We know that the first tasks are meeting the emergency needs today,” says Ruth Bar-On. “But we realize that the effects of this crisis on our population will last weeks and months. Intensive efforts will have to be made to bring back some measure of a feeling of safety, using all the methods we have from experience, whether it’s building a support group around a traumatized or injured person, or bringing in a team to repair and restore the smashed walls and windows of his or her apartment.