There is no question that in the last weeks, the most important activity of our emergency fund has been the Double Impact program, and it is clear it will be the most essential program in the coming months.
The refugee hotels are very crowded and naturally create feelings of tension and it is proving difficult to hold formal or informal education activities on site. Long hours spent in small hotel rooms lead to difficult behavioral problems and stress within families, with friends and with other people. There is difficulty in releasing pent up energy and tension, especially these days, and so ‘getting fresh air’ mentally and physically is even more vital. There is also a great challenge to conducting school in a building that is not set up for learning spaces as described above, and getting out into the open air will dramatically improve this situation. Excursions and outdoor activities will be one of the greatest needs of the refugees, especially for children and youth at risk, and they will also serve the needs of the education system in Jerusalem. Many Jerusalem families have faced special challenges, with parents who are mobilized in the army, bereaved families, those with special needs, and isolated elderly are also in need of Double Impact and it is providing important and meaningful help to all of them.
The main idea of Double Impact is to create a new system of formal and informal education at many institutions and sites in Jerusalem that have large spaces. These spaces serve as locations for innovative education and for much-needed recreation and play. Jerusalem is blessed with an abundance of Israel’s most important sites and institutions, yet many of these are facing serious financial crisis as they had to close their doors due to the war. Double Impact provides relief for refugees and Jerusalem’s vulnerable populations and also supports Jerusalem’s leading cultural institutions.
The program is taking place in the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, the Gottesman Family Israel Aquarium, the Botanical Gardens, the Ein Yael Living Museum, the Bloomfield Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Yellow Submarine, the Tower of David Museum, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the Cinematheque, the Train Theater, the Jerusalem Theater, and more. A further important component of Double Impact is sporting activities in open spaces and sports centers. The idea is to optimize all these locations particularly during the morning and times when they are under-used and less crowded. In sports, this includes activity of Beitar Nordia, HaPoel Jerusalem and the YMCA sport center that offered free subscriptions to allow the refugees access to the swimming pool and fitness center, almost 1000 people have already signed up. An efficient, sophisticated, safe transport system brings the children and youth from the various hotels to the Double Impact sites. So far, we have raised millions for Double Impact and over the last five weeks 30,000 people have already benefited.
“Everyone benefits from this initiative,” says Shai Doron, president of the Jerusalem Foundation. ” Jerusalem is a city abounding in culture, therefore it makes sense to connect between the evacuees now staying in the city who need outlets and respite and the cultural institutions that have seen greatly reduced visitor numbers since the beginning of the war. The Double Impact project is a double benefit for everyone.”
To read more about the Double Impact project, please read this lovely article by the Jerusalem Post.