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Project Spotlight: Carpentry Workshop for At-Risk Youth

Ohr Simcha carpentry project_14514828 A participant in the Fellowship-supported carpentry project (photo: IFCJ)

Ohr Simcha Children’s Home in Kfar Chabad, Israel, is an orphanage for children ages 6-14 who have suffered from abuse, neglect, and poverty. With help from The Fellowship, the home recently opened a carpentry workshop where youth can learn new skills, self-confidence, and responsibility and see the rewards of their hard work.

By supporting this project, The Fellowship is helping to provide these students, most of whom have been abused physically and/or mentally, with a tangible way to transform their lives and build their self-esteem.

“These kids feel broken. No one has ever believed in them. They have been abused and moved from place to place,” said Baruch, who runs the carpentry program. “Yet, through this workshop, I have seen a transformation taking place in their lives.”

The responsibility of working with electric saws, and other expensive, high-powered tools, builds their confidence and gives the children a feeling of accountability. “Not only do they have fun and learn a new skill in the workshop, but they actually get to keep what they make, and this makes them feel proud,” Baruch explained.

A Moving Transformation

Baruch shared the story of Mendy, a 13-year-old boy who lives at the children’s home. “Mendy suffered severe abuse at home,” Baruch said. “When he came to the children’s home, he had no confidence in himself and barely spoke.” As much as they tried to reach out to Mendy, he remained withdrawn. Therapy seemed to be going nowhere and school was extremely difficult.

“One day, I saw Mendy sitting on the floor crying,” Baruch recalled. “I asked him what was wrong, but he was so hysterical he could not talk.” After a few minutes, Mendy starting screaming, “I can’t learn. I can’t understand anything they’re trying to teach me.” Baruch was heartbroken for the child, and decided to invite Mendy to join the carpentry workshop.

“It turned out Mendy was extremely gifted with his hands, and in no time he was making incredibly nice products,” Baruch recalled. Mendy made a shoe rack for himself and his roommates. He also made a wooden sword that the other kids admired. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. After only a few weeks in the workshop, Mendy had so much confidence.”

Mendy began to help other children in the workshop with their projects, and being able to teach the other students gave him more confidence. “He started working harder in school, and though he still lags behind, he is much happier with himself,” Baruch said. “He now has friends! You can’t imagine what that means for Mendy, who at first barely said hello to others. Now he is participating in class, too.

“It is nothing short of a miracle to see Mendy and other kids like him transform through the Fellowship-funded workshop,” Baruch said. “God bless The Fellowship for reaching out and saving the lives of these children.”     

Learn how you can help at-risk boys and others in need in Israel

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) funds humanitarian aid to the needy in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world, promotes prayer and advocacy on behalf of the Jewish state, and provides resources that help build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews.

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