May 21, 2009

Hibuki Dolls Making a Difference for Children Living in Ashkelon

In Israel JDC works to create innovative programs that help the country’s most vulnerable citizens in coping with their daily lives, as well as to provide support in times of crisis or trauma. In the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military operation in Gaza in January 2009, JDC’s impact can be felt in its trauma relief programs designed to aid children living under fire, including Hibuki, (Hebrew for Huggy doll) Trauma Intervention. These emergency response programs are possible due to the support of our federation partners across the United States.

The barrage of Kassam rocket attacks over Ashkelon and southern Israel struck the physical, emotional and economic chords of the region, causing long-term damage to the most vulnerable populations. While the region is no longer in survival mode, the war-related trauma symptoms are now surfacing with great speed amongst the region's elderly, children, economically weak and disabled residents.

Thanks to the ongoing assistance provided by JDC’s proven emergency programs in Ashkelon, and in partnership with The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, these residents have come to rely on JDC’s expertise in child trauma relief, emergency management, community building and economic development as they recover.

As part of the Children’s Trauma Relief program, JDC introduced its Huggy Doll Trauma Intervention in Ashkelon. Known as ‘Hibuki’ in Hebrew, this entirely original intervention was created for children from Northern Israel who were in desperate need of therapeutic assistance, having been traumatized from the ongoing rocket attacks coming from Southern Lebanon. Once proven as an effective model, it was then introduced into the Southern conflict region to help yet more Israeli children suffering the outcomes of warfare.

The secret to the program's success is that it alleviates children's trauma and anxiety by transferring the therapeutic responsibility to children themselves. Using a Huggy Doll – a stuffed animal with Velcro strips on its long arms, which can 'hug' the child in various ways – as a focus, it employs self-help methods which empower children and reduce their feelings of helplessness.

(Photo from Focus on Ashekelon)

To see more photos, click on the picture above to visit FOCUS ON ASHKELON, a blog highlighting the The Ashkelon-Baltimore Partnership in Israel.

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