We are excited to share with you Mesila’s major accomplishments and work for 2019 and the main issues affecting the life of the community.
Miri Barbero-Elkayam, Director of Mesila
and Mesila's staff
Illustrations: Amit Rimon
Annual Report 2019
Mesila is the largest center of its kind in Israel. We provide direct annual assistance to roughly 10,000 children, women and men from the asylum seeker community, as well as to other undocumented people and 20,000 people indirectly.
Our services focus on children and families at risk, children with special needs and their families. We are committed to improving the quality of life of children in early childhood and treating survivors of human trafficking and slavery; all the while, working to strengthen the existing forces within the community.
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality
Ministry of Welfare
and Families At-risk
Our social workers treated approximately 1,200 children at-risk this year, with an emphasis on children subjected to physical violence, sexual violence, extreme poverty and neglect.
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:
65% of the parents treated are single mothers.
25% of children reported suffering from violence by their parents.
167 parents reported severe emotional distress; some suffer from a psychiatric disorder, but do not have access to adequate responses.
79 parents reported 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.
Treating Children with
Special Needs and their Families
About 370 children with special needs (including siblings) are
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
There are approximately 85 "babysitters" (pirate daycare centers) serving the community.
Most "babysitters" are overcrowded with very low standards, have insufficient communication, lack of stimulation, poor nutrition, many safety hazards and an unprofessional staff. There have been over 10 deaths of infants at these settings in recent years.
Mesila annually provides pedagogical training and guidance to 20 "babysitters" with about 600 children, 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.
Placing of long-term volunteers from various disciplines.
The unit also specializes in early detection of children-at-risk and children with special needs, advancing the transition from “babysitters” to municipal government day care centers, and providing orientation to municipal kindergarten staff.
The Paramedical Treatment Center
Established in late 2018, the paramedical treatment center treated about 360 patients in 2019. 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.
In 2019 we opened the 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
250 male and female survivors of human trafficking and slavery and their 100 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
Approximately 4,150 applications in 2019 (assisted roughly 9,000 people).
The main issues were the following:
* Approximately half of the families turn to us on more than one issue
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.
Managing Mesila’s Facebook page to publish important content to the community.
Establishing groups of agents of change for preventing domestic violence and advising on family planning.
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 100 volunteers.