Avraham A.* of Jerusalem can tell you he was not surprised when his parents got divorced. He knew for a long time that it must be coming. The endless fighting, door slamming and frequent silent treatments that sometimes went on for days-could only lead to one thing...
He was surprised, though, when his father up and left. Not just moved out--he cut off contact with the family, leaving Miriam, Avraham's mother, without any child support and twelve year old Avraham without a father. "Going to shul, learning, throwing a ball back and forth...activities we did together all became a thing of the past."
Avraham recalls how devastated he was. "It broke me. I became moody and depressed. I couldn't concentrate at school and my grades dropped, along with my confidence... I lost my motivation. I wasn't interested in being with my friends anymore." Miriam's efforts to cheer Avraham up and encourage him were fruitless. She hated to see her son like that and felt she had to do something. She arranged for counseling but knew he needed more. "I had heard a couple of neighbors discussing Yad Eliezer's Big Brothers/Sisters mentoring program and thought-that's exactly what he needs. I contacted them immediately."
For over 18 years, Yad Eliezer's Big Brothers and Sisters have been filling in the gaps for children who are in desperate need of emotional and educational support. They come from families affected by divorce, poverty, abuse and countless other traumatic situations. Carefully screened and trained mentors in the program are paired with these kids at risk. They spend hours together every week studying, going on short trips and running errands. Often mentors will invite "their kids" into their own families' homes to spend Shabbos and holidays. Some Big Brothers have even been known to arrange the purchase of tefillin for their little brothers when parents weren't able to.
The program is a life changing one, to the degree that many of the kids who were enrolled in it as children, have grown up to become Big Brothers/Sisters themselves. "The transformation in him was incredible" Miriam says. About two months into their time together, "Avraham showed signs of becoming more confident, his grades began to pick up. He started to return to his old self. Sure, he was still hurt. He still had issues concerning his father of course, but he was able to cope better, knowing there was a father figure-a friend- always there for him to talk to." Avraham agrees. "I felt there was someone who really understood me and who would listen to me. The help with homework definitely made school easier, but what really stood out to me was that here was this cool, older guy who I could always call. I could speak freely with him and he really wanted to hear what I had to say. His being there for me-there was nothing like it."
Every day, Big Brothers and Sisters work to ease the pain for 13,000 Israeli children at-risk just like Avraham, and bring happiness and stability to their lives. To ensure that the program can continue doing the invaluable work it does, Yad Eliezer is currently running a crucial campaign to infuse it with much needed funds. Two generous donors have offered to match each dollar raised, so that $1 will equal $3. The goal is to reach $5 million and every donation makes a difference.
You can help us get there! Please join us in this vital mission by donating to Yad Eliezer's Big Brothers/Sisters program.
* names have been changed