Dear Friends and Partners,
Summer vacation is one of the more challenging periods of the year for the children who attend our activities at the Garden Library. Schools close for the summer holidays and the majority of the children are left without an educational framework. As a result, children wander the streets of South Tel Aviv and Levinksi Park in particular for hours of the day exposed to sex workers, drug abuse, criminal activity and violence. To begin with, the children who attend our activities; migrants, asylum seekers and Israeli citizens, are the most disadvantaged children even within their own communities. They are neglected on various levels and lack various rights, among them the right to safety.
In the previous months a growing number of children have brought to our attention that they have suffered from physical and verbal violence, attacks by homeless people and drug addicts and blunt acts of racism. On a daily basis we hear testimonies from children that they were attacked or abused. Moreover, we have received reports from children stating that they were victims of sexual violence from strangers. A growing number of children request that they be escorted home by our volunteers at the end of the day. In general, the children address a decrease in their sense of security. The children’s stories reinforce what we have been stating for a long time: the children of this neighborhood are at constant risk and the authorities are not guaranteeing their safety.
The staff at the Garden Library is not only outraged at these conditions but we also act to do the little we can to better the situation of the children. The trust we have established over the years with the children and their families enables us to act for the good of the children and to gather various welfare institutions to act on their behalf. Our approach is that the parent’s participation is essential to bettering the children’s wellbeing, as they are the only stable factor in the unstable lives of these children, and thus we are in continuous contact with them.
In the last two years the Garden Library has been one of the only educational frameworks open and accessible to the children of the neighborhood during the summer. This summer we sponsor a large range of activities for the children in order to respond to their needs. During July-August the Children Center is open for six days a week, offering a range of activities, among them dance, English, fashion design and music courses. Our yearly football team (‘Equality is the Goal’) continues to practice and we have additionally opened two other groups for younger children and for youth. Additionally, we continue to run our study center with the focus of assisting the children to advance in their studies, so they are better prepared for the coming school-year.
Dafna Lictman – Director
The Garden Library