Every year approximately 300 babies are abandoned in the hospitals of Israel shortly after their birth. This happens because of different reasons: a problematic family background, medical problems of infants, abuse, drug addiction of mothers or other circumstances. But in all cases, the newborns are left alone in the hospitals without a warm hug, a happy song, a kind word or maternal care.
However, these newborns like any other baby also need love and affection, especially in the first months of their lives. They need touch and care. Unfortunately, medical staff are unable to take care of these children due to their heavy work load.
The "First hug" association was founded in 2004 trying to fill this void. A newborn’s emotional and cognitive needs have to be met in the first few months of life in order for healthy development. These needs are of prime importance so that the babies do not experience any developmental delays. The volunteers of “First Hug” take care of babies like these, giving them the attention and warmth they are lacking, by playing with them, singing songs for them and reading them stories.
A small group of volunteers take care of these babies in the hospitals before some of the babies are adopted. They create a homely and loving environment for these children, accompanied by social workers of the association, who provide them the necessary emotional and professional support in this challenging job.
The work of the volunteers should not be underestimated. It is they who make the difference. In one example Amir began to respond to language and touch and even started smiling after a few months of care. Despite the abuse Guy suffered he began developing and was soon adopted by a foster family, who provides him with the love and attention that he deserves. The warmth that Sara received has contributed to her development. She received the affirmation that she is loved and accepted, and has found a new loving family.
By Ora Shapiro
Credit: First Hug