“Remarkably, despite my injury, I ran hundreds of yards across the base looking for help,” she recalled. “I collapsed outside the dining hall and as a soldier was dragging me inside I was hit in the jaw by shrapnel from another missile.”
Maya was hospitalized for four months and underwent plastic surgery on her jaw. Several surgical procedures saved her leg, but she suffers from muscular atrophy. Rehabilitation enabled her to walk without a limp though she is often in pain.
Maya fought a winning battle against her crippling physical and psychological injuries with financial assistance from the Jewish Agency Fund for the Victims of Terror. The Fund was established in 2002 with the support of the United Jewish Communities and Federations across North America, Keren Hayesod, foundations and individual donors worldwide. With the sharp decrease in suicide bombings over the past year, the Fund was closed.
Sadly, today's current emergency situation has forced the Jewish Agency to reopen the Fund. It will provide much needed emergency support to the thousands of Israeli citizens who were front-line victims of the missile attacks on northern Israel. The Fund will play a vital role in meeting the humanitarian needs of these victims that are not fully met due to various limitations, or where other types of funding fall short.
Maya was told about the Fund by an officer in the Ministry of Defense. "I foolishly insisted on returning to duty on the Lebanese border after my injuries. But I did not realize how badly hurt I was psychologically,” says Maya, breaking into tears as she tells her story. “When there was a missile attack shortly afterwards I broke down.”
Working to save money.
“With the money I received from the Fund for Victims of Terror I was able to buy an air-conditioner for my bedroom because the heat and humidity were troubling my wounded leg. I also bought a computer because I was spending so much time at home.”
Gradually, Maya was able to overcome her depression and anxiety, mainly through the use of psychotherapy – therapy through art, dance and music. She received a scholarship grant from the Jewish Agency to begin studying psychotherapy in a private college.
“The recent war brought the trauma back to me so vividly,” recounted Maya. “I thought if I stayed in the war zone I would be able to confront my anxieties. So my mother and I spent the first few weeks in the bomb shelter near our home. Then a missile landed nearby and I just went into shock. My poor mother had to calm me down and we went to stay with friends in Tel Aviv.”
Maya is now working in a store in a shopping mall to help make ends meet. She is applying for a new Jewish Agency scholarship for students studying at northern regional colleges, and hopes that this will help her to continue her studies.
“The war highlighted my determination to overcome my trauma. By learning psychotherapy I hope to be able to ease the pain in others."
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Photo Credit: Naftali Hilger