Lili (not her real name) is 18 months old. Lili has been attending the WIZO Belgium-sponsored Neve Nof Day Care Center in Lod since she was five months old.
Lili’s unmarried mother had suffered from severe post-natal depression after Lili was born, and she had rejected her daughter. It was left to her grandmother, Shoshana, a widow, to look after Lili as well as taking care of Lili’s mother who was under the care of the psychiatrists because of her declining mental state.
Shoshana worked hard to raise Lili, but money was short and the pressure of looking after her daughter and granddaughter took a toll on her own health. Shoshana was exhausted. Lili was referred to WIZO through Israel’s Welfare Authority.
Lili’s mother has since been committed to a psychiatric hospital after she attempted to end her own life. Lili’s grandmother, who works as a cleaner, clings to Lili for comfort.
“Every day I thank God for this day care center,” Shoshana said, “I do what I can but Lili needs so much more and here, at Neve Nof, she is getting the very best start in life. I really could not do this alone.”
Speaking of the caregivers at the day care center, Shoshana said, “They care so much, not just for Lili but also for me. It is not easy looking after a young child alone, but I know I have a support system. Meirav, the director of the center, insisted on giving me her mobile number and told me that I could call her anytime day or night. She even arranged for a volunteer to come and help me with Lili’s bedtime routine,” adding, “Lili is walking now and I really welcome the extra pair of hands!”
Lili is a very happy baby, quite advanced for her age. She eats well at the day care center and is very generous with her smiles. When Shoshana comes to collect her every day, she runs towards her holding her arms up for a big hug.
Meirav, the day care center director says of Lili’s grandmother, “Shoshana is a unique person. Despite the fact that Lili’s mother is so sick, and Shoshana has to travel long distances to visit her in a secure institution, Lili is well cared for and Shoshana is such a loving grandmother. She has even started to volunteer two mornings a week at the day care centre and is a complete inspiration, providing support wherever it is needed.”
Perhaps, one day Lili’s mother will be well enough to enjoy her beautiful daughter but for now, between Shoshana, Lili’s grandmother and the dedicated caregivers at Neve Nof Day Care Centre, Lili is a well-loved and happy little child.
(Names changed to preserve anonymity)
(Photo for illustration purposes only)