Blog: Living with Down Syndrome in Israel
Thursday, June 11, 2015
In Israel some 140 children are born with Down Syndrome each year. In total, there are about 7,000 people with this condition in the country.


A light in the darkness

Posted on 1/23/2014 by Ariel Rudolph

"Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry; And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?“ (Isaiah 58:7)

Shanti House in the Negev desert is a therapeutic-rehabilitation village, and one of two Shanti houses established in Israel, where abused, orphaned and homeless youth aged 14-21 can find a home. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs there are currently 330,000 socially disoriented young people from dysfunctional families in Israel.

Since its inception, more than 24,000 young people have passed through Shanti House. Shanti House has developed a unique method for treating young people who have suffered physical or psychological violence.

Most of the young people finding their way to the Desert Shanti House have been abused or neglected at home. For many, this place is the last chance of a warm and loving homely atmosphere before they could end up on the street. Shanti House offers its residents a friendly atmosphere, where every person is treated individually.

The desert and nature have been proven to have a strong therapeutic effect and help young people heal. Some of the methods and programs offered by Shanti House are:
- therapeutic farming where young people learn to work the land and to harvest the produce. The experience of being outdoors contributes to a youth’s physical development, their emotional and mental health as well as their well-being.
- there are therapeutic art programs that help young people to overcome their trauma and to deal with life's challenges. They learn to develop confidence, to trust others, and learn to make better decisions in life.
- there is a "friendship tent" that assists youth at risk in job searches.

Shanti House only accepts young people who still have a glimmer of hope in recuperating from their trauma. Perhaps this explains why Shanti House has become very successful. Over 65% of young people manage to recuperate and lead a normal life. Shanti House's model for socially disoriented youth can be applied in any country.

By Ora Shapiro

Credit: Shanti House