ICEJ Supports Young Israeli Mothers amid War

Since the start of the current war, young Israelis already exposed to violence, drugs, and abuse before the war are floundering even more. Israel is experiencing a troubling rise in the number of young people experiencing suicidal thoughts and engaging in self-harm, often from feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. This problem is especially acute among families evacuated from their homes or with reservists serving in the Israeli army.

Sadly, in these stressful times, young people are particularly vulnerable to physical or sexual abuse by family members, peers, or strangers. Since the war began, many at-risk youths also have disconnected from their schools, leading to failing grades and unclear futures. Some of these teens have emotional trauma or learning disabilities—or they have to work to support their families.

The official statistics paint a bleak picture:

  • One-fourth of all at-risk youths suffer from loneliness and isolation.
  • 50 percent are at risk of severe depression.
  • 33 percent engage in criminal behavior.
  • 30 percent use drugs and alcohol.

Without help, many of these young people end up becoming parents themselves and cannot provide a stable environment for their own children. 

Young Israeli Mothers in Distress

Knowing this, the ICEJ is proud to be sponsoring a “Young Mothers in Distress” project that provides help and care to young mothers as young as 13. These mothers, often isolated and burdened by financial and emotional hardships, have found a lifeline through the program. Our aid helps improve the quality of their lives and that of their children.

Since the war’s onset, social services in Southern Israel have either been shut down or are operating on a limited basis. Vulnerable young mothers have been especially affected by the war. Due to a lack of income during the war’s first months, they could not pay the rent or bills. Approximately one-quarter of these mothers are currently dealing with new sources of debt. Many were evacuated from their apartments to other parts of Israel.

Yet through the generosity of our Christian donors, counseling and guidance is being provided to over 120 young Israeli mothers to help them cope, pay bills, and find a path to stability and hope. As a result, 85 percent of participants report improved mental health. In addition, workshops and training sessions funded by ICEJ have empowered these women with essential life skills and job readiness, with 80 percent of participants reporting increased confidence in their abilities.

Needed Resources for Israeli Mothers

Furthermore, the project includes providing vital resources for young Israeli mothers, such as food baskets, diapers, and infant formula.

Significant successes have also been reported in finding jobs and schools. Through partnerships with companies such as Indigo and Amdocs, several young mothers have secured stable employment. In addition, new educational opportunities for both mothers and their children have meant 15 children were enrolled in daycare programs, and 5 mothers began higher education courses in recent months.

Moreover, by engaging with local welfare departments, these mothers have discovered a new network of resources and support. For instance, they can now receive legal assistance for custody battles and protective orders, giving these women more peace of mind.

One powerful example of the program’s success is *Meital, a 22-year-old with a 2-year-old daughter who was dramatically rescued from Sderot early on October 9. During the intense first two days of the war, mentors maintained constant contact with her as she anxiously sheltered, holding her child tightly as terrorists lurked just outside their home. 

After a long, unbearable wait with her child, the pair were finally evacuated to the safety of a hotel in Jerusalem, where they could breathe a sigh of relief. After months away from home, they recently returned to Sderot. With her mentor’s support and encouragement, Meital began intensive trauma treatment at a resilience center and continues her sessions to this day. Together, they are courageously working to overcome her fears of sending her daughter to daycare and rebuilding a sense of normalcy.

The war has caused or worsened trauma for many more Israeli mothers who need our help. *Yael, a 20-year-old mother with an 18-month-old baby girl, experienced mental health problems and was initially not ready to discuss them. Over time, the war only deepened her mental strains, but with the help of her mentor, she realized she needed help. They scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist, and Yael began group therapy. She also received a diagnosis that allowed her to receive financial assistance. 

We are thrilled to play a part in these successes and look forward to helping more young Israeli mothers and their children reach out for a brighter future amid the current war crisis.

—By ICEJ AID Administrator Nativia Samuelsen