When the Second Lebanon War ceasefire went into effect on August 14 2006, residents in cities, towns and rural areas throughout the North rolled up their sleeves and began the long task to erase the massive physical damage. However, the emotional scars left by the war may remain unseen for many years to come.
Dr. Ankor works with the Community Stress Prevention Center in Kiryat Shmona, supported by UJA-Federation of New York. She saw first hand the damage the war wrought and was instrumental in helping northern residents.
“When the war broke out, we worked around the clock. We took the calculated risk to continue to operate the center and our "hot line" from above ground, where we had access to telephone lines and computers,” recalls Dr. Ankor.
During the war, Dr. Ankor, a mother of nine, also had to cope with the responsibilities of looking after her own family. “My older children live in the center of the country, so we sent our younger children to be with them. Eventually, the strain of separation and their fears for our safety became too much, and we decided that my husband would remain with them until things settled down.”
However, for many children in the North, things have not settled down. "Many of the children are still carrying major psychological scars," says Dr. Ankor.
She tells of one young girl who began to stutter during the war, and still suffers from attacks. Another girl saw her mother suffer from a nervous breakdown and whenever her mother has a panic attack the girl also becomes hysterical.
"These are only some of the cases that we are handling," says Chava. "There are so many.
The children are living in an atmosphere of uncertainty. They are prone to anxiety attacks, jump at sudden noises and are constantly listening for sounds of a siren."
Dr. Ankor stresses, "We need to reinstall a sense of security in our youth; to help them to believe again in their ability to study, to move forward and to continue to live under a threat that most of them believe has not diminished. We cannot do this alone. The Jewish Agency's assistance is invaluable."
The Jewish Agency has put into place a comprehensive program for helping children transition from trauma to recovery in the North. A New Tomorrow includes innovative enrichment programs for strengthening feelings of worthiness and personal capability among students; homework assistance and tutoring; values education that encourages personal responsibility and strengthens commitment to community and society, and a "Children Paint War" program that offers children the opportunity to express their feelings of fear and anxiety through art.
Says Dr. Ankor, "We need to use all of our resources to ensure that our children, like so many children around the world, can return to living normal lives."
Photo Credit: Naftali Hilger
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