Carla (not her real name) lives in the warm and supportive environment of a Neve WIZO foster home, with her foster parents and seven other foster children, three girls and four boys. Carla’s birth mother is from the Philippines and is married to an Israeli who is much older than herself. When Carla was a baby, her parents took her to live in Manilla. They came back to live in Israel when she was seven years old and Carla never attended school.
Carla, who knew no Hebrew, was left for long periods alone in the apartment while her mother was ‘working’. Her father was a heavy drinker.
When Carla was found alone at home she was surrounded by medicines and tablets that were fed to her by her father who had said that his daughter was ‘always sick and complaining of pains in her legs and her back and her tummy’. She was referred to the care of WIZO by the welfare authorities.
When she first arrived at the WIZO foster home, a comprehensive plan for her rehabilitation was worked out with her new foster parents and a team of social workers, doctors, psychologists and remedial teachers. Firstly, she was treated by psychologists for hypochondria as a succession of doctors who examined her found that there was nothing physically wrong with her apart from a deficiency in nutrition. With the intervention of the care team and in the nurturing environment of the foster home, Carla adapted well to life with her foster parents, and eased in to her new life. She regards the other children in the foster home as her sisters and brothers. Having benefitted from intense tutoring and Hebrew, Carla has caught up with her peers and attends a local school where she is beginning to show great promise in all subjects.
Foster mother, Shelly, speaks highly of Carla: “She is a beautiful, affectionate child. She is always so helpful around the house and is always the first to help clear the table. She is fastidious in her personal hygiene and never needs any reminding to do her homework. She helps me with the younger children now. She folds her clothes in a very unusual way that she must have learned in the Philipines, and I always like to show off her neat cupboard as a reminder to the other kids that tidiness is not just something that grown ups do!”
Every year, tens of thousands of claims are filed in Israeli courts relating to child neglect or physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. Tens of thousands of these children are removed by the authorities from dangerous and life threatening home lives. Without intervention, these children might fall victim to their circumstances. Continued under-nutrition, lack of attention, neglect, or worse will prevent them from receiving and achieving what they need in order to succeed in life and have a bright future.
For children such as Carla and many others at great risk, WIZO created Neve WIZO, a long-term foster family home for children aged 4-18. Children enter the the foster home by court order and undergo a process of emotional, psychological and educational evaluations to determine their needs. There are currently five houses in Neve WIZO, each housing 8 children.
Married couples are employed as foster parents and provide a warm and stable environment for the children. Placed in the midst of a loving home and having supportive adults to guide them through life's milestones gives the children hope and courage to overcome past hardships and reach their full potential. The fostering couples are guided by a professional support team including a psychologist, social workers, and various therapists. Neve WIZO is unique in that it cares for these children from childhood to adulthood and provides everything they need physically, academically, emotionally and socially to become healthy, responsible, functioning adults.
(Names changed to preserve anonymity)
(Photo for illustration purposes only)