How Do Children Overcome Terror? Together!

OneFamily Big Brother Big Sister Gathering (Image Credit: Courtesy OneFamily © 2019)

How does a child who has suffered from a terror attack make sense of their traumatic loss? Children and teenagers who lose a parent or sibling often suffer from severe emotional difficulties. Because of their bereavement, they find it hard to return to a normal routine.

For this reason OneFamily’s Youth Division established the Big Brother Big Sister Program. Children and teenagers who have lost loved ones in terror attacks or were injured are paired with a university-aged “brother or sister” to support, guide, and help them for as long as they need.

In mid-June, more than 40 counselors and children celebrated the end of the activity year under the slogan “Together All The Way.” During their year of weekly meetings, they slowly gained each other’s trust during play, talk, activities, and going on outings.

Each child with their Big Brother/Sister presented a project they had worked on together at a daylong event marking the end of the activity year, organized by OneFamily coordinator Miriam Simhon, who is in charge of the Big Brother/Sister program. Three of the projects exemplify the range of reactions children have to emotional difficulties they may experience, and the paths out of turmoil.

Pnina and Ranana have been together a year. “At our first meeting, we asked each other three questions. Later we each drew a tree and on each leaf wrote our wishes for the year,” Ranana said. “I was a bit cautious of Pnina at first but then we became great friends. I will soon be 11, and one of my wishes is that Pnina will stay with me next year,” she said.

Because Pnina studies theater, and Ranana loves to dance, they decided to combine their two loves for their end of year project. They produced a film with several short clips titled “Now it's my turn.”

“You meet a person and become part of their thoughts, their lives. The film combines both our loves. Our film is made up of a number of short clips: the world is our stage and everyone has a place in it; that is what our film is about. It shows our connection to each other and how important it is,” says Pnina.

Na’ama and Tamar chose to portray the life of Na’ama’s brother, Naftali, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2014. A large placard with Naftali’s name in the center displayed four milestones in his life: Naftali’s childhood, the Yeshiva Mekor Chaim where he studied, IDF Operation Brother’s Keeper in which security forces and civilians searched for Naftali and his two friends; and the last stop, entitled “Continuing Naftali’s path.”

“The project helped me to understand who Naftali was,” said Na’ama.

Ora meets Avia every Monday. Every week they do different creative projects, talk, and have fun together. “For our project we decided to focus on Avia’s brother Shahar, who was killed in Operation Protective Edge.”

Avia found it very difficult to talk about her older brother and the fears she suffers from since he was killed. She is afraid of the dark, and is scared to sleep by herself. She also worries about another brother going to boarding school next year and how she will cope.

To help her overcome her fears Ora helped Avia search for her favorite photo of Shahar. It wasn’t an easy task as every photo meant something to her. Finally Avia chose the photo she liked, and after enlarging it they pasted it on a canvas and decorated the border. Avia chose to call her project “My Shahar.”

For more information on the OneFamily program, please click here.

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...הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם הָרִימִי אַל תִּירָאִי אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה הִנֵּה אֱלֹקֵיכֶם! (ישעיה  מ:ט)

...Raise your voice with strength, herald of Jerusalem; raise it, do not be afraid; say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your G-d!"

(Isaiah 40:9)

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© 2017 by The Jerusalem Herald, a division of Yashar Communications