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“Ahava” - Youth Village for Children in Distress

Wallie, one of the participants of the 2013 course “Youth At-Risk: Preventing Student Dropouts and Facilitating Reintegration” asked:

 “What kind of assessment do you use in order to choose the staff in the institution?”

“Well, a very important and not too complicated criteria, as I said, very important in the lines of assessment = LOVE ! Yes!!!! Love is the best methodology for assessment! If the child does not feel loved then these people can’t work here!!!!  You see AHAVA in Hebrew means LOVE”.

‘LOVE explains our motto, that is: They told, you couldn't, but with us you can”.

These quotes are only a part of the wonderful answers and explanations given by a wonderful and wise Educator, Yoav Apelboim, Executive Director of “Ahava”, which cares for a total of 250 children and youths aged 6 to 18 that come from high-risk home situations.

The Village, situated in the northern town of Kiryat Bialik, is a nonprofit organization that was first founded in Germany in 1914 by Zionist women as a soup kitchen for poor Jewish children in Berlin.

In 1922 it was transformed into a youth village by Beate Berger in order to provide a home for German and Austrian Jewish children in distress. With the advent of Hitler, Berger had the foresight to acquire land in Israel and in 1933 moved Ahava’s activities to the Promised Land. Since its inception, Ahava has cared for the needs of children. The organization’s history has paralleled that of the Jewish people and the Jewish Modern State.

The village has developed a number of programs to provide the supporting framework required to help its residents.  Over the years, these programs have proved to be vastly successful.

These programs include:

1) A Therapeutic Family Residential Care System which models a real family environment for children aged of 6-18. The children live in apartments consisting of 13 children, supervised by a "foster family" who act as surrogate parents.

2) A Therapeutic Day Care Center designed for the care of children from the surrounding area that need special educational and emotional support, including ongoing parental consulting and a support system.

3) A  Post Mental Hospitalization Program that  provides an alternative for mental hospitalization for children who come from severely dysfunctional backgrounds, and have suffered severe emotional injuries as a result of their biological environment,  

4) A Special Education School, serving most of the children in the care center from 1st to 9th grade  ,

5) A Short Term Emergency Center that provides a temporary care and education solution for children and youth in crisis situations who are required to leave their families and community due to special urgent circumstances as well as ”warm" apartments for youth at the age of 18+, with no family support. Former "AHAVA" residents and also graduates of other institutions support them fully, and provide consultation and guidance.

 During the visit we met children and “parents” during lunch time in their home, visited the garden and the horses-therapy  area, the emergency center and the beautiful greenhouse.