Personal stories

The story of Galit from Madraga

A letter of a graduate of the apartment
My name is Galit, I stayed at Madrega apartment up until two years ago, between the age of 18 and 20.
Today I study at a University in Jerusalem.
Before I arrived to the apartment I stayed two years at “Beit Ariel” hostel, since the age of 16.
In the hostel I had, for the first time in my life, to deal with frameworks, strict rules and limitations, in addition to the much attention (sometimes too much) and close guidance of the staff throughout my stay.
So sometimes I felt over-protected. What prevented me from falling and trying to get back up by myself.
Perhaps due to my age (16-18) it was better this way.
Preparing for independence was done through a theoretical method of talks and social guidance.
I was afraid of my encounter with real life, adulthood and independence.
To illustrate I will speak about my main fear, the fear of leaving the hostel, which haunted me: In my head I always had a picture, in which I was not able to pay the rent and the landlord threw me out with all my belongings.

Madrega Apartment, at the time, was all I needed. I joined the apartment at the age of 18, still anxious, but less.
I’ve gained complete independence at the apartment. Including the confidence that I can erase that picture that I always had in my head.

All the decisions regarding every aspect of my life were mine alone.
And I dealt with all the related implications.
Michal was there when I needed her, though sometimes she wasn’t.
Which forced me to plan ahead my schedules and set correct priorities.
The independence I’ve gained through the apartment was also in the mental aspect.
Michal made me feel that I was responsible for myself, while at the same time made sure that I that our apartment is equally shared by all. She avoided (and this I gathered only after I left) “marketing” us girls as different girls with different needs.
To maintain our sense of homeliness and privacy and strengthen the feeling that we are already a part of normal society, with the duties and rights of every normal person.
Talking with Michal was a privilege, not a duty. Looking at each other eye to eye,
The advices (and not the decisions), everything about her said, and still says, that the decisions are mine and their consequences are my responsibility. Independence at the apartment was absolute. I still felt that I have someone to count on, and someone to call. What helped me assuming responsibility for my life while at the same time doing that without fear, since I have Michal and Madrega apartment.
Madrega (Stair), as its name implies, was the last step towards total independence.
I take a lot of credit for myself and proud to be where I am today.
But to tell the truth, I do not know where I would be today without Madrega, and without Michal who helped me to learn to ask for help, that it is OK to fall and also how to get back up.
It should be credited to me, to Michal and to this important and blessed project, that today I joined the Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science courses at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. What in the past (even after I left the hostel) have been a pure fantasy only for privileged people, and a dream that was really beyond my reach.
By believing in me, and believing that anything is possible, after these two years in the apartment,
I went straight into the dorms at the university and to completing my matriculation at the preparatory program.
Under Michal’s guidance I reestablished a healthier and closer relationship with my family as a whole, and more specifically with my parents.
I wish to thank Michal and Otot Association that operates this important project, which saved my future (literally) and helped me more than anything else, to get out of the difficult cycle in which I was for 20 years.
Thanks again,

The story of Tamar

I arrived to the hostel 3 years ago.
The reason was quite simple, my father immigrated with his two twin children, a son and daughter. He was a new immigrant who did not know a word of Hebrew. He had a hard time with his absorption in Israel.
We had no friends. It was really difficult.
Me and my brother did not suffer so much. We did have friends. We spoke mostly Russian, But we knew Hebrew very well and helped my father.
When we reached the more advanced classes in elementary school problems started to appear…
Many times we did not go to school.
For no good reason…
And then came the social worker of the municipality.
My father did not know what’s going to happen, he genuinely trusted the social worker – who spoke with him in Russian.

My brother started doing stupid things, The police was also involved. So we were referred to several more talks at the city welfare office in which they offered me and my brother, with the consent of my father, to go to a hostel.
The decision was very difficult for all three of us.
Mother remained in Russia – she’s very sick.
Both me and my brother went to a hostel. We both made new friends both at the hostel and at school.
We went to regular schools.
We started feeling better. My brother was in another city but not very far away.
We visited home every two or three weeks. Father was in a better mood and at times he had a job. But it was hard for him without us .Father was happy every time we visited home. My brother did quite well at school and even studied for an additional year since he studied a trade.
I also studied like everybody else.
Eventually me and my brother reached the stage where we needed to leave the hostel.
Both me and my brother are soldiers now. I’m a soldier who loves what I do and my brother serves in the Air Force.
In fact we had a good time in the hostel, we learned what is right to do and matured there.
Today we regard that period as the period that saved us.
We still keep in touch with the hostel and the social worker who made efforts for us.
Central Israel

The Story of 'A', a guide at "Makom Acher"

“I still remember the first cigarette I ever smoked. I inhaled the smoke into my lungs and went zigzagging all the way home due to dizziness. In 94 I immigrated to Israel with my sister and we lived with relatives in Haifa. I had a dream to open a new page in my life and be a good boy, and that what really happened at first – I learned Hebrew fairly quickly and had good grades in school. But all that was worthed nothing when I used to come home and see my mother with black eyes from the beatings she took from my father, who passed out from drunkenness.

This situation has affected me and very quickly I went back connecting with the disturbed children who skipped classes, smoke cigarettes and drank vodka. I thought that it is a lot more fun to get into trouble than to do my homework while others are having fun (or so I thought).
In two years, I found myself expelled from boarding school, and because I was afraid to tell that to my parents, I made up some lie and run away from home. For two or three months I wandered around with friends, acquaintances, hiding places and abandoned buildings,while being stoned from any thing that could get me stones and scare away all my bad thoughts.
When I had nothing to eat I used to ask money from people on the street, claiming I need it for travel. Of course, everything was wasted on drugs. At some point I had no friends and no places to hide anymore and I decided to go back home. At the same time I also got caught stealing and had to go, by the judge’s order, to meetings with a probation officer. Today I can say that she was the one who pulled me back up. She managed to find a place for me at a hostel for youth at risk after no other facility wanted to take me in anymore since I was almost 18.
I was sure that there I could already stand back up on my feet, but this disease, this addiction, was stronger than me. The third time I got caught with a “dirty” urinalysis it was decided that I need to go to rehab. The manager of the hostel where I stayed was amazed that I did not resisted to go to rehab, just because I was already with my head down, I did not believe in myself and was willing to do anything to break this circle already.
It was very hard for me to make myself believe that I could last one week without drugs, let alone for months or years. I will never forget how I got angry with one of the boys who whined about being clean for just three months, while his friend had been clean for one year already. I looked at him and thought he was a moron – for me being clean for months makes him some sort of a god, and this is how he belittles that?!
It took me just over two years to rehab, and at certain moments I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. What kept me going was the friends I acquired, and mainly the fact that I started to believe in myself. I set myself with goals and started feeling better with my life. I would get up early in the morning and no longer had that thought of how and where I’m going to get my fix, but instead thought of what I’m going to do today that would drive me forward with my life. I wanted to join the army, but it was already too late; I could only do basic training and reserves. I wanted to do something more meaningful, to contribute, so I went working with autistic children in my national service volunteering. Working with them was very difficult for me.
After the service, I decided to complete my matriculation and did that at the Wingate Institute. Then I met Alon Barmi in one of the graduates reunions at Malkishua (a therapeutic community for drug addicts), and he asked me to work as an educational guide at a hostel for teen boys and girls at risk. Since then two years have passed, during which I worked, and still working, at “Makom Acher”, and I believe I will continue working here for a few more years.

The story of Samir

Samir arrived at the hostel in Jerusalem two years ago, when he was 18, a high school senior in a vocational school.
Samir is the third child out of four siblings, his father works as an employee at a supermarket in this region.
The graduated elementary school well, but during middle school years problems began to emerge…
He began throwing stones at Israeli cars passing down toward his neighborhood.
The probation officer began to check on the boy.

It turned out that Samir felt that his father does not constitute an authority figure. His father works very hard to provide for his home and children and is not involved with the lives of his children. The mother is very dominant and looks after her children.
It turned out that Samir always did what he wanted, without any limits and without the discipline and authority of adults.
At school also he began to exhibit behavioral problems, which became known to his parents and the probation officer.
The result was unavoidable and Samir was arrested by the police.
After his release he kept throwing stones at cars a few more times. The was arrested again and the judge sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment.
Samir had great difficulties adapting to the imprisonment conditions and was even injured by other inmates. He still afraid to talk about prison and suffers from bad dreams ….
Samir lost two years of regular studies.
After the third arrest, also for throwing stones, the judge referred him to the hostel for 18 months, as an act of last chance….
Samir knew how prison was and what a detention is…
This is the moment when Samir decided to reconsider his conduct…
Is this how he wants the rest of his life to be like. Is this what his parents would want their young son to go through?
The referral to the hostel entailed great changes in Samir’s thoughts and will to succeed.
He recalled that the judge told him that this was his last chance, he remembered the judge’s resounding voice …
He decided to take things into his hands and was accepted well at a hostel, with problems related with the setting of boundaries and accepting authority.
The professional staff helped him well and he returned to regular studies. The hostel’s manager contacted the school, which also saw this as one last chance.
He corrected his ways and everything turned out as he wanted. He studied in a vocational matriculation class.
t the 11th grade he became the most outstanding student of his age group.
Samir became disciplined, stable, and wishes to complete his senior year in high school.
At the same time with his studies Samir also works for several hours. With his earnings he learns to drive, helps his parents financially and buys new clothes for himself without asking anyone for any support.
Samir requested to prolong his stay in the hostel for additional six months and this request was granted.
The hostel’s manager recommended Samir as a national outstanding tenant.
Currently Samir is in the midst of his process of leaving the hostel in which he stayed for two years.
Samir asks upon his graduation to examine the possibility of allowing him to serve as a guide in the hostel in which he had changed.
The hostel’s manager said that she would be happy to accept him, provided he’ll complete his matriculation exams
So may Samir have great success in his future endeavors…..