Some Israeli children – as young as 13 years old – have been abandoned by their guardians and left on the streets. Forced into homelessness and to battle life’s hardships alone, they suffer each day from hunger and loneliness, often experiencing emotional or physical trauma.
A large number of these homeless youth are immigrants who don’t know how to find a job or even how to speak Hebrew. They desperately want to get their lives on track, but don’t know where to begin.
For years, The Fellowship has sought out these children and filled their basic needs by supplying them with food and medical care.
One of the ways The Fellowship reaches out to these homeless young people is through supporting ELEM – an organization serving Israeli youth in distress – and their Van at Night project. Counselors and trained volunteers (often former at-risk youth themselves) reach out to homeless young people on their “turf” by driving a program van to areas where troubled teens typically hang out. Then these volunteers and counselors speak to them with care and concern, helping them with any immediate needs and educating them about the resources available in Israel for teens in their situation.
The mobile team visits public parks, recreation centers, abandoned buildings, and crime-filled neighborhoods. The vehicle is stocked with baked goods, snacks, and drinks, and in the winter provides hot drinks and warm food, blankets, and warm clothing.
The team serves as trusted mentors to youth who want to make a change in their lives but feel stuck and alone. These mentors show them the potential they truly have and how to make positive steps in their lives.
The Van at Night project helps youth like Netanya, a 20-year-old girl living in the park who was heavily addicted to narcotics. The team kept reaching out to her and she is now in a drug rehabilitation program and on her way to recovery.
The caring team show these young people that they are not alone, and their vast knowledge and resources empower teens to find the help and care they desperately need. These resources are truly lifesaving – allowing these youth in distress to overcome their crises and find hope and healing.