Empowering and keeping women safe is an integral part of WIZO’s philosophy. Be’er Sheva is the largest city in the Negev Desert of Southern Israel and is a virtual melting pot of Jewish immigrants from East Africa, the former USSR and Ethiopia. In addition, its southern location and neighbouring Bedouin and Arab communities make for a diverse and socially complex community.
In 2008, WIZO UK stepped in to create the ADI Program in Be’er Sheva to assist a group of 12 girls, aged 13 to 16, who had been emotionally, physically and sexually abused and who also lacked family or community support.
As WIZO’s work with the young teens expanded throughout Be’er Sheva and its reputation grew, older girls and women, aged 16 to 26, began to approach WIZO for help. The numbers of girls seeking help increased in both age groups, not only making the premises crowded, but also making it clear that the developmental, emotional and therapeutic needs of the two age groups were very different. The older group needed a place of their own, and WIZO Australia was approached to support this new project. So, Makom BaLev – ‘A place in the heart’ was born.
The facility offers young women short-term accommodation as well as programs that aim to increase their educational or work opportunities, which will subsequently enable them to move back into the community.
Program highlights include professional counselling and support to a maximum of 50 young women; vocational rehabilitation tailored to individual needs; referral to medical care; safe and hygienic emergency housing; and hot nutritious meals.