To provide a suitable solution for all homeless youth in Israel
Shanti House was established in 1984 by Miriam (Mariuma) Klein and her previous partner, Dino Gershuni. They held open-house every Friday evening, for Kabbalot Shabbat, and provided a hot meal for people living on the streets. At that time there were no frameworks providing solutions to the problem of street youth, and their house was filled by youngsters looking for a place to sleep and eat. Mariuma and Dino understood that their home was the only solution for these youngsters and they started to improvise places for them to sleep and gather food left over at the day’s end from the Carmel market. The rumour spread and street youth arrived in droves. A girl living in the house at that time said “I feel so shanti here” and when asked the meaning of “shanti” she said “love, calm and peace.” One of the youngsters at the house then took a can of black spray paint and wrote on the wall “Welcome to Shanti House.” In 1992, led by Mariuma, a number of people got together and established the “Shanti House Association” that functions to this day as a legally registered association. In 2000 Shanti House was awarded the President’s Award for Volunteerism and in addition, Mariuma was honoured by being one of the torch lighters at the Eve of Independence Day official ceremony. In 2001 Dino resigned from Shanti House, and with the help of the home’s staff, Mariuma continued running the home. In 2006 Mariuma was awarded the Tel Aviv Municipality Award of Merit. During the years 1997-1998 research was carried out by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem that compared various therapeutic environments for runaway and homeless youth. The research was carried out on a sample group of 138 youngsters living at Shanti House. The findings revealed 55% positive results (youngsters who had left the home and were living independently and who had
not returned to the streets or reverted to crime/drugs or alcohol use), in addition to 23% still living at Shanti House (who were showing positive signs of rehabilitation) – a total of 78% positive results.
Youth at risk is a national problem relating to 330,000 teens (as of 2005) who live in risk-inducing conditions (brought about by the death of a parent, abandonment, non-functioning parents and the like) and who are exposed to various risk levels. Shanti House cares for teens who are at immediate risk of physical violence, sexual abuse, criminality, prostitution etc. Moreover, Shanti House is the only place in Israel that can address all risk levels serving as a temporary shelter as well as a long term framework. Shanti House operates preventative programs for youth at risk.
Youngsters find their own way to Shanti House from all over the country or are sent by the authorities for a long stay, or temporarily until a place is found for them in a suitable framework. The home admits youth from all levels of society, from all sectors without differentiation between religion, race, sex and nationality. Between 35-45 youngsters aged 14-21 reside at Shanti House at any given time. The home is open to all except for drug addicts, alcoholics, sex offenders and the mentally ill. These boys and girls have been abused physically, sexually and verbally; are orphans or were neglected by their parents; dropped out of formal therapeutic frameworks; new immigrants and lone soldiers. For many of these youngsters, this is their last, and for some their first, chance for a warm and loving home before their descent into life on the streets. Since its establishment Shanti House has helped thousands of youngsters, who can be divided into three categories: THE FIRST CATEGORY youth who stay at Shanti House from between 24 hours to one week. After a motivating talk with them and discussions with their parents or caring institution, these youngsters return to their homes/framework from which they ran away. THE SECOND CATEGORY youth who live at Shanti House for a period of between one week to one month, until a permanent place can be found for them by the authorities or by Shanti House. Their stay prevents their living rough on the streets, that could lead them to sexual abuse, violence, involvement in fights, theft, law-breaking, prostitution, drugs and alcohol. THE THIRD CATEGORY youth living at Shanti House for long periods of time from one year to a few years. For these youngsters Shanti House becomes their home as they have
nowhere else to go and no other institution will accept them. In addition, each year Shanti House helps 120 non-resident youngsters who receive counseling, food, laundry, telephone use and more. Since 2001, a warm and cooperative relationship has developed with the Youth Protection Authority, who recognize and understand the importance of Shanti Houseâ€™s unconventional and unique therapies, and provide 8% of its budget
Shanti House’s doors are open 24 hours a day and youngsters are admitted at any time without the need of an official referral or period of waiting. It is the only home of its kind in Israel that accepts youth between the ages of 18-21. During the first stage of absorption, the youngsters will be given food and clothes and are assessed for their suitability to Shanti House. For those under 18 a request to approve the youngster’s stay will be made to their caring institution or family. Following a short talk and explanation of house rules, the newcomer will be shown around the home and introduced to its residents and will often be accompanied by one of the long-stay youngsters who will help ease their integration into the home. After a few days rest and renewal of physical and mental strengths, the youngster will be asked about his/her expectations and dreams and with the help of the staff, an individual program will be created, according to capabilities, desires and needs. The youngster will not be accepted, or will be asked to leave, only if their stay will seem to be of no benefit to him/her or is likely to be to the detriment of the other youngsters living at the home. When youngsters complete their stay at Shanti House and decide to leave, they receive ongoing support and help, both at the practical level (such as finding accomodation, opening a bank account, etc.) as well as at the emotional level – such as motivational talks and encouragement. Shanti House will continue to be their family and they can return whenever they feel the need, as well as being welcome at Friday night Kabbalot Shabbat, festivals and other events. One of the foundations of Shanti House’s success is the fact that, as opposed to other youth institutions,
no formal personal records are kept – records that represent a negative factor in the youngster’s reintegration into society.
The use of alcohol, drugs and violence is strictly forbidden (note: youngsters who are willing to be rehabilitated but who break the rules are given a number of chances before finally being evicted). Household chores are the youngsterâ€™s responsibility â€“ according to a schedule and their timetable of activities. Taking part in the chores gives them a feeling of belonging and responsibility. Boys are not allowed in the girlsâ€™ rooms, and the opposite; physical sexual contact is forbidden. Getting up on time in the morning and getting organized for lights out is strictly observed. Youngsters have to attend two chosen Shantherapy activities each week. Creating a daily, personal timetable that includes studies/work/army or any other framework, assists their development and advances them to a better future.
One of the most significant therapeutic tools used at Shanti House is the Shantherapy Project that has been operational since 1998. Activities are held in the afternoons and are also open, free of charge, to any teen not residing at Shanti House. The project is a significant factor in the youngster’s rehabilitation and character building and is a channel for releasing anger, sadness and frustration and a source of much interest and enjoyment. In addition, project activities contribute greatly to the feeling of belonging, responsibility, interaction and equality among Shanti House youngsters and youngsters from the community. ACTIVITIES The activities are varied and are tailored to the youngster’s fields of interest. Participation in at least two weekly sessions is compulsory for every boy and girl residing at Shanti House, according to choice and preference. Activities help to broaden the youngster’s horizons, expose them to new ideas and experiences, and remove their defensive layers and masks. Coming to activities on time develops responsibility and commitment; the bond with therapists and teachers strengthens the youngster’s belief in others and teaches them to make healthy relationships in their personal lives. Activity and treatment frameworks include Arts, Psychodrama, Cinema, Drumming Circle, Flamenco, Creative Writing and more. ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES Within the framework of alternative therapies (carried out fully clothed), the youngsters learn that physical contact does not have to hurt or threaten, and most important of all – is carried out by their own free choice. They decide where the therapist will treat them and how, where the therapist will touch them and when, thus giving them total control over their
bodies, and a sense of uncomplicated security that was taken from them so many times throughout their lives. These therapies are especially valuable for traumatized youngsters who were victims of sexual and physical abuse. The relaxing physical touch is a healthy and healing experience, and even allows them to touch their soul without words or manipulation. Therapies include Homeopathy, Shiatsu, Healing, Reiki, Reflexology and more. WORKSHOPS AND ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES The Shantherapy Centre regularly holds workshops aiming to help youngsters deal with their pasts and with the challenges of the present, to cope with difficulties and indecision in a more positive way, to improve their self confidence and self esteem, and to free themselves from negative behavior patterns. One of the leading workshops at Shanti House is the 12 Steps workshop which is directed mainly at youth with a tendency toward addiction, as well as for youth in general.
Most of the youngsters coming to Shanti House have not been within an educational framework for some time. In order to secure commitment to their studies and an independent professional future, a special educational framework is chosen for them, taking into account the desires, inclination, talents and abilities of each one. This approach significantly reduces the problem of rebellion amongst young people and their studies become the fulfilment of a dream and a great privilege. In order to complete matriculation studies the youngsters attend private schools where they study as equals with their place guaranteed through payment allowing them a feeling of equality, high self-esteem, respect and a sense of duty to themselves and to Shanti House to succeed in their exams. The vocational courses studied include Computers, Professional Makeup, Alternative Medicine, Acting, Multimedia and many more. Shanti House also assists with integration within employment frameworks and recruitment into the army. The IDF provides a soldier whose permanent job is to help the Shanti House youngsters, especially with motivation and recruitment processes.
Within the framework of tools given to the youngsters in the Shantherapy Project, and from the belief that helping others gives strength and hope, Shanti Houseâ€™s youngsters participate in voluntary and community activities. Giving is part of the treatment process that diverts the minds of the teens from their painful experiences and provides them with a feeling that they are able to contribute to society, and to contribute as equals. The youngsters regularly visit old age homes and hospitals in order to bring some cheer and hope to the hearts of patients, they help in preparation and distribution of food products to the needy, and take part in events and projects for the good of society.
The continuing tradition of Kabbalot Shabbat represents a significant stepping stone in the development of the youngsters at Shanti House. Every Friday evening and holiday everyone gathers around a laden table: past and present residents, staff, and guests who want to experience the family atmosphere of Shabbat. Kabbalot Shabbat are a time for the youngsters to say what is in their hearts, a time for motivational spiritual reflection and optimistic thoughts that allow them to see the â€œhalf full glassâ€? in their lives.
The staff regularly attend training sessions and workshops in various subjects: treatment methods especially suited to todayâ€™s youth including E-mago, Coaching and 12 Steps. In addition, the staff attend study days and lectures related to youth at risk. There are no psychologists or psychiatrists at Shanti House. When the need arises, the youngsters go to private clinics to ensure that Shanti House remains a home and not an institution. Headed by Mariuma and Michael Ben Yosef, the Shanti House staff is comprised of people who see their work as a vocation and mission. Some have a background in social studies and some bring a practical background. The staff also includes individuals who underwent experiences similar to the youngsters and who succeeded in escaping the circle of destruction and victimization and who use their experience to help and guide others. In addition, the homeâ€™s youngsters who have proved themselves suitable and worthy also assist with counselling.
Visitors from Israel and abroad attend lectures at Shanti House that illustrate the story of the homeâ€™s establishment, development and therapeutic activities. In addition, Mariuma and Shanti House representatives are invited to lecture in many places in Israel and throughout the world.
Shanti Houseâ€™s extensive activities could not be sustained without the welcomed voluntary work of many good people who lovingly and wholeheartedly share their abilities and experience. Volunteers take part in all facets of the homeâ€™s life: cooking, private coaching, helping counselors and much more. They are carefully chosen and have to provide a character reference. Should you wish to join the Shanti House family of volunteers and help save the lives of hundreds of youth each year, please contact us and you will be invited to a volunteers evening. We are profoundly appreciative of the contribution of all volunteers who help us and who freely donate their time and skills in so many ways. May they be blessed and rewarded for their kind hearts.
Out of five existing centers for youth at risk in Israel, none are in the south. However, building has now started on the “Desert Shanti” project in the country’s south – a therapeutic farm that, through increasing the scope of Shanti House’s remedial methods, will provide a solution to the problem of youth at risk in the south in particular, and for the rest of Israel in general. The farm is being built adjacent to Route 40 (a main highway running through Israel) and is spread over 540 dunams, of which 150 dunams is for buildings. Despite its location in the desert, the farm is near a school, hospital and other essential services. The project will include: A home for youth – absorbing 1,000 youngsters per year from the south and the rest of the country, using Shanti House’s credo and treatment methods, together with the desert’s healing power and the youngster’s distancing from negative influences. Therapeutic farm – therapy through agriculture and farm animals. Visitor Centre that will host around 10,000 high school pupils from Israel and abroad each year for workshops to prevent drug abuse. From a survey carried out by the Rashi Foundation among youth living in the south (not including Bedouin youth), it was found that from 120,000 youth aged 14-21, around 28,000 of them are at high risk.
Surveys carried out in 2006 by TFC Co. found that 67.24% of those questioned are familiar with Shanti House and its activities. A survey carried out in 2000 by Strauss Co. found that 80.2% of Israel’s youth would turn to Shanti House at times of distress. Despite Shanti House’s popularity it still survives mainly on donations and its survival is constantly under threat. In order to safeguard and ensure its continued activity, in January 2000 the Shanti House Endowment Fund was established. The Fund is managed by Bank Leumi Le Israel’s Board of Governors and legally registered as a Public Fund. The aim is to reach $6 million. The Fund is a deposit account and the interest will only be used for the home’s operational costs – after the Fund reaches $1 million. In the event of Shanti House’s closure, the funds accrued will be used for the nonconventional treatment of youth at risk, such as that carried out by Shanti House. We invite you to join us in order to safeguard Shanti House’s continuation and help save thousands of youngsters each year!
SHANTI HOUSE ASSOCIATION FUND FOR DAY TO DAY RUNNING COSTS: THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL BANK ACCOUNT NO. 409-178-373 INDUSTRIALISTS HOUSE BRANCH – NO. 057 TEL-AVIV,ISRAEL
Shanti House Endowment Fund For Youth at Risk: BANK LEUMI LE’ISRAEL Account NO. 296402/16 Trumpeldor Branch – NO. 807 Tel-Aviv, Israel
The Shanti House Association Fund and the Endowment Fund both hold legally registered documents and approval of bookkeeping management.Registered Charity 58-0199594 To make a tax-exempt contribution, donations in $US can be sent via PEF Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. (Email: email@example.com). Please mail your check, payable to PEF Israel Endowment Funds, Inc. to: 317 Madison Avenue, Suite 607 New York NY 10017 USA, stating that the contribution is designated for Shanti House (No. 3221)
270 Hayarkon st., P.O. Box 50041, Tel Aviv 61500, Israel, Tel: 972 3 510 3339 Fax: 972 3 516 8603 firstname.lastname@example.org www.shanti.org.il