Elissa’s parents were desperate for another child. They had tried for many years but to no avail. When Elissa was 13 years old, her mother was shocked yet delighted to find herself pregnant again.
However, this happy news could not have come at a worse time. Elissa’s father had just lost his business and had been forced to sell their home to pay off business debts. Elissa’s mother had never needed to work. She had always been a dedicated and hardworking WIZO Jerusalem volunteer. Now the family lived on government benefits. Every day was a struggle.
Elissa had not been an easy child. As the only child, her doting parents had indulged her, but she also suffered from mood swings and attention deficit (ADHD). After failing in many other schools, she was referred by the welfare authorities to the Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family Vocational School, where she was able to benefit from extra-remedial learning as well as counseling and treatment for her neurological shortcomings.
At the vocational school, Elissa also enrolled in the cooking track. She is especially fond of baking, a skill that she had learned from her mother.
She was very excited at the prospect of becoming a sister, and when her mother gave birth to a beautiful baby, the teacher of the cooking track sent a pink-iced cake baked by Elissa to her parents to welcome Emma – their new little girl. The volunteers at the WIZO Jerusalem Centre were supportive, discreetly providing baby clothes and nursery equipment to the family.
At the age of six months, baby Emma was referred to the WIZO Day Care Centre at the Rebecca Sieff Centre by the welfare authorities. She was a happy and content baby with a smile for everyone. This gave the girls’ mother free time to attend enrichment classes at a WIZO women’s centre, where she learned computer studies and office management to prepare her for future employment.
The girls’ father is currently retraining to become a bus driver. He said,
“I do not have enough words to say about how WIZO helped us. They actually rebuilt our lives. Elissa is doing so well at school. She is happy, and she has friends. I get the greatest pleasure from seeing her study. They (school staff) say that she will be successful in her matriculation exams and will receive her cooking certificate. My little angel, Emma, thrives and brings pleasure to everyone who sets eyes on her and my wife really enjoys her new job working as a medical secretary. Thank you, thank you WIZO!”
And yet, no thanks are needed. This is WIZO’s mission. WIZO brings hope where there is none. WIZO turns obstacles into opportunity and WIZO does it with all the care and compassion needed to embrace and support the family.
(Names changed to preserve anonymity)
(Photo for illustration purposes only)