Mesila

 

Mesila is a unique municipal unit run by the Tel-Aviv-Yafo Municipality. It was established by Mayor Ron Huldai 22 years ago and provides assistance and social services to asylum seekers and undocumented people.

 

Mesila's vision is to improve the quality of life asylum seekers in all aspects of their lives.

 

The services we provide include information, mediation, advocacy, the exercise of rights, humanitarian aid, individual, family and group counseling, and assistance in dealing with the various municipal and government agencies (education, health, social services). Furthermore, Mesila works to increase the accessibility of information on different subjects and advances and empowers the community through a variety of activities carried out with and for the community. Mesila is also engaged in raising awareness about the community situation in Israel, in addition to formulating and advancing national policy and conducting public information campaigns.

 

Our services focus on the most vulnerable segment of the asylum seeker community: at-risk children and their families, children with special needs and their families, and survivors of slavery and human trafficking. We are committed to improve the quality of life of children in early childhood and strengthen the existing frameworks and structures within the community.

 

Mesila’s activities are developed and implemented in direct partnerships with community leaders and community based organizations. The organization’s programs emphasize a localized approach to address the needs of the community while maximizing the community’s strengths and assets.

 

 

Illustrations: Amit Rimon

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Annual Report 2021

Mesila's Work

Mesila is the largest center in Israel. A unique municipal unit providing direct assistance to approximately 10,000 children, women and men from asylum seekers community and too other undocumented people, as well as indirect assistance to more than 20,000 people.

Our team is composed of 50 women and men, most of whom are social workers and pedagogical guides. We are assisted by 90 volunteers, who receive guidance and extensive training.

Income Sources

Approximately 60% of Mesila's operations are funded by the Municipality and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, and around 40% by donors and partners.

 Donations 

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 Ministry of Welfare 

 The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality 

Treating Children and Families At-risk

 

In 2021, our social workers treated about 1,200 children at-risk, with an emphasis on children subjected to neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and extreme poverty.

The treatment program for a family can include individual and group parental guidance, individual treatment for parents and children, tutoring for children, art therapy and more. 

Main characteristics of children and families treated:

  • 60% of the parents treated are single mothers.

  • 23% of children reported suffering from violence by their parents.

  • 274 parents reported severe emotional distress and/or physical disabilities or other ailments.

 

None of the families and children assisted are eligible for governmental social security allowances. 

The unit's main challenges are the minimal available means for assistance alongside the extreme poverty of most families in treatment.

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Treating Children with
Special Needs and their Families

 

About 350 children with special needs (including siblings) are
treated annually.

This involves locating these children, providing them with social care, instructing their parents on how to realize their rights, diagnosing their special need, finding suitable educational settings, assisting with health insurance and holding therapeutic support and leadership groups for the parents. 

The most common special needs treated at the unit are: autism, delayed development, physical and mental disabilities, complicated illnesses, and Down’s syndrome. 

Providing Assistance to Children in Early Childhood

 

The early childhood team works with the "babysitters" (pirate daycare centers) serving the community.

 

In 2021, the team provided pedagogical training and guidance to 10 babysitters.

Most "babysitters" are overcrowded with very low standards, have insufficient communication, lack of stimulation, poor nutrition, many safety hazards and an unprofessional staff.

Mesila annually provides pedagogical training and guidance, including:

  • Weekly individual, on the job pedagogical guidance that is comprehensive and intensive.

  • Courses and seminars for caregivers.

  • Tools and information for parents.

  • Improving physical conditions.

  • Early detection of children-at-risk and children with special needs

 

The team also provided guidance to the educators from five community afterschool settings and worked to find appropriate educational solutions for the children in the community.

The Paramedical Treatment Center

 

The paramedical treatment center treated about 250 patients in 2021. The center offers children under Mesila’s care:

Art therapy – Personal and group therapy, use of artistic tools to access the emotional world of the client. This occurs alongside verbal processing of the content.

Occupational therapy – Particularly suitable for children with delayed development, motor difficulties, attention deficit disorder, and more. The ultimate goal is to increase the participation, independence and quality of life of the child in day-to-day functioning, learning, playtime and social activities.

Speech therapy – Treatment of language disorders and developing preschooler's communications skills. Focuses on improving communication skills with one’s surroundings.

The center also runs a therapeutic dyadic playroom, which provides a much needed response to the children and parents we treat in terms of their physical, developmental, cognitive and emotional needs.

The National Center
For Survivors of Human Trafficking and Slavery

 

212 male and female survivors of human trafficking and slavery and their 168 children are treated at the center.

 

The center treats recognized victims of human trafficking and slavery, survivors of the Sinai torture camps who were kidnapped and tortured for ransom.

Most of the patients suffer from severe medical problems, PTSD, depression, financial debts due to the ransom payments, difficulties in establishing a family and social isolation. 

Work at the treatment center includes: personal therapy sessions, advocacy, accompanying clients to meetings with municipal, medical and government entities, financial and material assistance, social activities and group therapy sessions. 

Advocacy and Support

Mesila's Advocacy and Support Center received 4,600 applications in 2021.

 

The main issues were the following:

Financial assistance - 2,604 applications

Education, health, welfare and realization of rights - 1,947 applications

Disabilities and illnesses - 460 applications

Assistance with mental distress - 429 applications

 Domestic Violence - 151 applications

Couples' mediation - 25 mediations

The center mainly assists with the realization of rights, initial social assistance and advocacy with an emphasis on:

  • Children's rights: educational, health and social.

  • Education: help with registering for municipal kindergartens and schools, orientation for educational staff toward multicultural work and more.

  • Women in the cycle of violence: providing initial social assistance, referrals and contact with battered women's shelters, the police, Israel Prison Service and more.

  • Families in the process of separation or divorce: help with family courts, mediation and agreement on visitation rights and alimony, and paternity tests. 

  • Health: Promoting and assisting with the acquisition of health insurance for children, assistance with medical appointments, registration in the Health Ministry, the filling out of forms, counseling and communication with institutions and authorities.

  • Mapping and promoting policy changes, working with shelters of women in the cycle of violence and welfare departments in various cities.

  • People who turn to us often share a range of financial, emotional and health problems. 

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Community Work

 

  • Managing Mesila’s Facebook page to publish important content to the community.

  • Establishing groups of agents of change for advising on family planning.

  • Establishing a food bank for asylum seekers.

  • Establishing a program to reduce the number of children wandering the streets.

  • Organizing activities and publishing videos to increase the protection of children in the community.

  • Developing services and providing support for community initiatives.

  • Organizing activities for children.

  • Placing, operating and supporting 90 volunteers.