ELEM’s Outreach Vans, our symbol of hope, is one of ELEM’s flagship programs. On October 12th, mere days after the attack that claimed the lives of at least 1,400 Israelis, ELEM marked its 40th anniversary we even featured a decorated van to honor the ones in Israel.
At that time, there were two things we didn’t know yet.
We didn’t know how even more crucial ELEM’s vans would become in the days following the attack. We currently have vans in four pop-up locations in towns hosting evacuees. Traumatized youths visit these vans to get emotional and mental support in an informal setting where they feel comfortable. We are working on establishing additional pop-up locations to serve the growing number of youth who need immediate aid.
We also didn’t know that two of our vans were destroyed at the Nova Festival, where three ELEM volunteers were killed.
Our vans, our symbol of hope for youth – gone.
Youth know that when they see the vans arrive, it means someone is coming to listen to them and support them, to hand over a guitar, a cup of instant noodles, or a steaming cup of tea.
But it’s not just that the vans were destroyed. We must warn you that this next part might be difficult to read.
According to eyewitnesses, people were hiding inside the vans. They sought refuge and safety, as so many youths did before them. But the van, as one witness said, was “filled with fire.”
Our van was turned into a death trap by terrorists. The heart cannot comprehend. It cannot deal.
With two vans lost and additional pop-up locations opening, we must replenish our fleet of vans, and that is part of what we’re raising funds for through our emergency campaign.
Help us grow the fleet, restore hope, and help us take care of the thousands of youths who need immediate assistance on the ground now.
We thank you today and always.