The Story of “M”

“M” arrived on our doorstep at the age 14. Today she is 19, studying for her bachelor’s degree, and getting married next month! Life wasn’t ever easy for “M” and it took a lot of hard work and support to reach these milestones. Here is her story: M grew up in a religious though dysfunctional home, where screaming parents were the least of her problems. Her father got involved with drugs which led to various types of abuse. This young teenager was forced to leave her home in order to survive and as a result explored various lifestyles in her search of self, love and life itself. While living in the streets she was the victim of a serious violent crime and was rescued by our outreach workers. It took years until she came to trust adults in general and men in particular. We arranged for her medical care and follow up as well as serious therapy for her mental health. Very slowly she began to open up. She moved from the corner of the youth center to a chair next to another girl; she began to interact with peers; on occasion we even caught a passing smile cross her lips! With time she began attending classes – first one on one and then in small groups. Our counselors continuously encouraged her, and learned when to gently push and when to give her the space she needed to internalize new realities. We celebrated together when she completed her last bagrut exam and finally earned a high school matriculation diploma; we celebrated her acceptance to university; we celebrated her engagement and we now look forward to celebrating her wedding! But before all of this, we celebrated her attending our evening youth activities; we celebrated her physical attendance at classes even when her thoughts were clearly somewhere else; we celebrated her initiating a conversation with a guidance counselor; we celebrated her following through on tasks; we celebrated her return to a religious lifestyle – we celebrated so many seemingly minor steps that go unnoticed in most cases because we knew that celebration was critical to healing and that ultimately it was precisely these baby steps that would enable M to become a healthy adult! And now we look forward to a life full of reasons to celebrate with M!

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