Fellowship staff member Ami Farkas recently talked with a single mother of five children about her financial difficulties and how The Fellowship helped meet a very practical need.
I recently met a bright, educated woman named Orli who works as a secretary in the Be’er Ya’akov welfare department in Israel. For years, Orli watched as the neediest people in her city shuffled into the welfare department offices with a desperate look on their face.
And as we began to talk, she recalled a time when she never would have believed a day would come when she would wear the same look of desperation on her face as she has seen on countless others.
Born in Israel in 1973, Orli was raised in Rishon LeZion – a city just south of Tel Aviv – to a very average family. Her parents weren’t financially secure, but they worked hard and managed to give her a decent life. Orli went to a good school, served in the army, married, and moved to Be’er Ya’akov.
“I had a beautiful life, a happy marriage, and a loving family,” Orli recalled. But when Orli became pregnant for the fourth time, she found out that she was carrying twins, one of whom suffered from autism. “My husband and I were devastated on hearing the news, but we believed that we could handle it, and that our relationship and the family we built together would last,” Orli recalled.
The twins were born, and the burden of caring for five children – especially an autistic newborn who needed round-the-clock care – began to chip away at the couple’s marriage. The financial costs of caring for a child with special needs were a lot higher than they expected, and they now found themselves unable to cover their monthly expenses.
“Our marriage fell apart to a point of no return. At a moment in life when I needed my husband’s support the most, I found myself fighting against him in courts as we went through a messy divorce,” Orli recalled.
Six and a half years have passed since the twins were born and almost as many years since her divorce. Amazingly, through all the hardships, Orli has managed to somehow hold it together.
Despite her salary and monthly government assistance for her child with special needs, Orli still doesn’t make ends meet. Her ex-husband is supposed to give her monthly child support as well, but he often goes months without paying, knowing she doesn’t have the time, energy, or money to sue him for back support.
In the face of all her challenges, Orli relies on her hard work, faith in God, and The Fellowship. “I recently turned to The Fellowship for help,” Orli said. “Working in the welfare department has given me an insight into The Fellowship’s Kupat Yedidut, or emergency fund, project and so I made a request.”
This fund doubles the welfare department’s budget for emergency needs and supports more than 150 Israeli cities. Kupat Yedidut supplies people with a one-time emergency grant, helping them with a specific financial need. In Orli’s case, she desperately needed a dresser in her children’s bedroom.
“I was so focused on my child with special needs that I did not realize how badly my other kids needed a dresser to store their clothes and to keep some order in their room,” Orli explained.
Her kids never asked their mom for a dresser because they saw how hard she worked to support them. But Orli felt she needed this basic necessity for her kids; she needed to show them that she cared, and would look after their needs.
“I received a grant from The Fellowship to buy a dresser for my children,” Orli recalled with joy. “I know most moms wouldn’t be as excited about a dresser as I was when I received the grant. But because I raise all my kids on my own, The Fellowship’s aid restored my faith in myself as a single mom.”