A new school year is starting in Israel. Just like everywhere, there are lots of things to buy: school clothes, a backpack, shoes, notebooks, pens—and in Israel, school books. In some schools, the children wear uniforms—another expense. The textbooks alone cost about US $150 per child. For families in socioeconomic distress, these necessary expenses are sometimes impossible to afford. And in Israel, families typically have several children.
About 23% of the population in Israel (almost two million people) live under the poverty line—nearly 32% of Israeli children, according to a report published in January by National Insurance. These families have difficulty putting food on the table, meaning school expenses are not the priority. Tragically, without the proper tools, children struggle to succeed in school. Over the past year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic, children had to study virtually from home. Many of the children on the Feed a Child program fell even further behind when their families couldn’t provide them with a computer.
During this stressful time, Bridges for Peace bought computers and tablets to help these families. Normally we provide a meal every day at school for the children on our program. During lockdowns and school closures, we gave food to the families of our Feed a Child program participants to help sustain them through the difficult time.
Recently the homes of two of the children caught fire, and their families lost everything. These families were already struggling, having lost their jobs during the pandemic. When we were told of their ordeal, our immediate response was to help. We gave them gift cards for local stores, blankets, kitchen items and a Tanakh (Old Testament), as well as other gifts. After the school principal visited, she described their emotional response, especially when they received the Tanakh, as all their books had been burned. In her thank-you note, Principal Elinor Bitton-Kovacs told us, “In the name of the families and the school, I would like to thank you again, Bridges for Peace, for making a difference.”
Right now, our team is working with school officials and social workers to identify the children and families who need the most help. It is heartbreaking to turn poverty-stricken families and their children down because we simply don’t have enough sponsors. To support a child for an entire school year, we need two sponsors, each giving US $65 a month. With these donations, we provide a meal every school day, a new backpack, all their school supplies (books, notebooks, workbooks, etc.), and we pay for them to go on school outings. In addition, we provide after-school enrichment courses as needed. One-time gifts help us provide much-needed equipment for the schools (computer labs, smart boards, digital projectors, playground equipment, etc.).
Sponsors receive a profile and a picture so they can get to know the child they are sponsoring and his or her interests. Sometimes letters are exchanged. Some sponsors choose to give gifts on special occasions. After reading of Yosef’s interest in soccer, his sponsors sent us money and asked us to buy him a special gift: a new soccer ball and shoes. This generosity impacted Yosef so much that he decided to use his new gifts to coach another child.
Worldwide Christian love and support affects more than just the children on the Feed a Child program; it also impacts the families, the school administrators and teachers, and the entire community.
Will you ask the Lord if He wants you to sponsor a child for this next school year? As the principal said, we are making a difference—one child, one family, one school and one community at a time.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord…” (Ps. 127:3a).
Blessings from Israel,
Rebecca J. Brimmer
International President and CEO
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