Infusing Hearts with Light

// miri's story

Miri was an adorable baby, born to loving parents of very low socioeconomic status in south Tel Aviv.

Prior to the pregnancy, her mother worked hard cleaning homes while her father, a truck driver, was away many long hours due to his heavy workload. During the pregnancy, the young mother-to-be contracted a degenerative disease that made it difficult for her to care for her firstborn child after the birth. Miri’s father was forced to curtail work hours to help care for his newborn daughter. The financial crisis cast a pall of despair over an already dismal situation.

The young mother’s disease progressed until tragically, three years later, she passed away. The newly bereaved husband was unable to cope. For all intents and purposes, little Miri was on her own – withdrawn and unkempt. The social rejection that she suffered was to follow her like a shadow throughout childhood. Her father’s subsequent descent into heavy substance abuse severely damaged his liver. After all rehabilitation attempts failed, child welfare workers removed Miri from her home and placed her with a devoted foster family in Jerusalem. Misfortune continued to haunt the young orphan; Miri was badly abused over an extended period of time by her foster family’s uncle whose false displays of fondness fed her deep need for warmth.

Miri was then sent to a children’s institution up north, but could not adjust to the impersonal atmosphere. She desperately craved personal attention; lacking it at ‘home,’ and shunned by her classmates, she sought it elsewhere, in the streets. When she refused to attend school, it became clear that she could not remain where she was. At her next institutional placement in the greater Tel Aviv area, Miri, by now nearing adulthood, formed a good relationship with the house mother, an exceptionally kind, sensitive woman, who realized that Miri’s emotional instability and years of trauma warranted immediate professional treatment in order to heal.

Familiar with Bayit Cham’s work promoting mental health and treating trauma, the house mother brought Miri for an evaluation in nearby Bnei Brak, one of Bayit Cham’s 7 mental health clinics. After a long process of multidisciplinary treatment in both individual and group therapy, Miri’s sense of self began to blossom. She acquired life, vocational and interpersonal skills in Bayit Cham’s vocational rehabilitation program, accompanied throughout by caring, professional staff. Her confidence grew, first in very slow increments and then, in leaps and bounds. Miri finally began to care, trust and make friends. The comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation Miri received at Bayit Cham on the cusp of adulthood prevented her from becoming a chronic psychiatric patient.

Today, Miri is an undergraduate student at a prestigious university, studying to be a social worker. Bayit Cham infused Miri’s heart with light, love and hope, opening the doors of opportunity to a more promising future. Miri’s heart is now aflame to pass the light along to others…