Interview with Programs Director, Bracha Runes,
Only days before the school year began, nine new girls arrived at the Home. The first group to reach the Rubin-Zeffren Children's Home doorstep consisted of three girls between the ages of 7 and 12. They were accompanied by a social worker from the Welfare Department. The girls came empty-handed, without any personal possessions- two of the girls, sisters, literally clung to each other. Bracha related these harrowing facts to Lev LaLev explaining how the third girl just stared – appearing totally forlorn.
The following morning, four more girls arrived. Two of these new housemates each had with them an old, torn backpack that contained their meager belongings. A few hours later, two more new girls arrived just in time for the main meal. Several of the Home's older girls immediately greeted the new arrivals and welcomed them graciously with warmth and acceptance. Sad faces soon turned to smiles as the hungry girls were first fed, then given a tour of the Home and shown to their attractive, newly painted, rooms. Each of the nine girl’s joy was clearly visible when they saw their neatly made beds with colorful sheets, matching pillowcases and duvet covers for the first time. Every bed had a few cuddly stuffed animals as well as a welcome basket of toiletries including scented soaps, shampoo and conditioner, a comb and hairbrush, and eau de toilette.
Sadly, these nine girls came from various degrees of some of the most painful and difficult dysfunctional family situations. We learned that the two sisters' mother, an emotionally unstable woman, suffered a terrible setback, enduring a nervous breakdown after her husband was incarcerated for crimes committed while under the influence of drugs. A few of the other girls came from broken homes where they witnessed frequent verbal and physical friction between their parents and, as a result, they too were abused. One of the nine girl’s mother and father are deaf and cannot properly care for their daughter, the youngest of their children, who was born to them later in life.
Accepting new girls to the Home is not an easy task. Each girl needs to be individually assessed by the Home’s Educational Director; her previous school records are obtained and evaluated. Then the girls are placed in appropriate local schools, or special-ed programs when deemed necessary. Their medical and dental needs are addressed, and the girls' mental health concerns are also taken into consideration. Appointments are immediately made for those deemed candidates for various types of psychological therapy.
At Lev LaLev, we are committed to giving these 9 new girls a brand new beginning. The day they arrived at the Home’s threshold, was the first day of the rest of their lives. We hope that this New Year, 5773, will prove to be the best year of their new life – filled with renewed hope, happiness and good mental and physical health.
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