For the M’s, an Ethiopian family living in Netanya, Israel, life has always been difficult. With six children between the ages of 4 and 15 even small emergency needs can throw them into an economic crisis. When one of the children recently developed a paralysis in his legs due to a blood clot, the continuing two-month hospitalization has brought chaos and serious financial disruption to the family. Each parent takes a shift at the hospital (the mother during the day, and the father at night, after he returns from work) which requires over an hour’s ride in each direction on public transportation. Each month, this expense comes to more than $400 so that for the past two months the family has had to find more than $800 from an already meager income to cover these critical costs.
When we read about this situation in a morning email from Anne and David Silverman, who both help run the Forgotten People Fund-an all-volunteer group that works in Netanya where there is a large Ethiopian population, we knew we had to step in. A quick call to Anne confirmed that this was a case that they were having great difficulty trying to help and our offer to cover two months of this expense was gratefully received.
Anne went on to explain that with the recent economic downturn, even more Ethiopian families are experiencing great difficulties trying to feed, clothe and provide for themselves. Over the past year, FPF volunteers have become part of a Rapid Response Team which was set up by the municipal social workers with whom the organization has a close relationship. A volunteer is assigned to each district and when a social worker in that district comes upon a serious issue that needs immediate attention, the volunteer is called and goes to investigate. Once they confirm the need, the Forgotten People Fund steps in to underwrite the expense.
What a great system this is and what a fabulous group comprises the Forgotten People Fund. This immediate triage helps to prevent bad situations from becoming worse and offers the families some sense of relief that they are not alone during this difficult time.
We ended our conversation with Anne by telling her that she should not hesitate to contact us when a specific need was beyond their means. If we can, we will gladly use the tzedakah money donors have entrusted to us just for these very types of situations.