22 December 2009 Kav Ors light shines brighter with Kadima Mada A Swiss-based Foundation has come forward to fully fund World ORTs new project upgrading educational facilities for hospitalised children in Israel. Thanks to a major donation from the SASA Setton Foundation, World ORTs programmatic arm in Israel, Kadima Mada, can steam ahead with its initial four-year expansion of the Kav Or programme, which provides education services in the paediatric departments of almost every major hospital in the country. More than 120,000 children a year stand to benefit from World ORTs plan to install Interactive Whiteboards, develop distance-learning services including the upgrading of the Kav Or website, train teachers, and strengthen the role of volunteers in 27 hospitals from Yoseftal Hospital, Eilat in the south to the Ziv Medical Centre in the northern town of Tsfat. The slogan of the SASA Setton Foundation, which was introduced to Kadima Mada by World ORT President Dr Jean de Gunzburg, is ‘for children to have a better life’. It was founded in 2007 to take over and expand the activities of its founders Hilda and Philippe Setton in memory of their children Sarah and Samuel. Talking about the Kadima Mada-Kav Or programme, Mr and Mrs Setton said: ‘We want to help World ORT’s project ensure that hospitalised children are alleviated of their anxieties and can focus on ordinary daily activities; this is essential to their emotional and physical recovery.’
Since its creation, the SASA Setton Foundation has partnered with the International School of Geneva and its Foundation to implement an Extended Learning Support Programme. New facilities have been built at the primary and middle schools at the campus of La Grande Boissiere (2,000 high school students) to integrate the programme within the mainstream academic year.
The Foundation has also provided specialised equipment to the Hadassah University Hospital for its Paediatric Cardiology department and has expanded yearly contributions to several programmes in Europe and in Israel dealing with children and young adults in need of support.
Mr and Mrs Setton recently visited the first two hospitals to benefit from Kadima Madas partnership with Kav Or (Ray of Light), which since 1993 has been supplementing services provided by the schools that are required by law to be set up in each public hospital. It was, they said, inspiring to see the impact made at Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera and Soroka University Medical Centre in Beer Sheva only one month after they had been supplied with new computers.
The World ORT programme works in full cooperation with Israels Ministries of Education, Health and Welfare, the Prime Ministers Office and the more than 300 volunteers who provide close support for the children.
And we fully coordinate everything with the principals and staff at each of the hospitals schools, said World ORTs Chief Development Officer and Public Affairs Officer, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita. Together we are building a programme which will be suitable to meet the needs of the children coming in for treatment at each of the hospitals. We are not simply talking about equipment and technology, although that is important. Our aim is to support the hospitals schools in developing all the lessons and curricula they need to bridge the gap between the children in hospital and their peers in the regular schools.
For Dr Bilha Piamenta, Kadima Madas input is assurance of a bright future for the work of Kav Or, which she founded in 1993 while Deputy Dean of the David Yellin College of Education, a major teacher training institute in Jerusalem.
At David Yellin College Dr Piamenta was in charge of integrating computer studies into the curriculum and in charge of volunteer services to the public. Kav Or was the result of her idea to bring together elements from both fields to provide distance learning as a way of increasing efficiency and enhancing the benefits for trainee teachers and hospitalised children.
The computer studies programme was dull so, in order to provide some inspiration to my students, I thought rather than teach only computers we should do something with their voluntary work, she said.
This was before the widespread availability of Internet so we set up an intranet and this not only enabled my students to provide lessons to many more children simultaneously but it also meant they could avoid the time lost through travelling to the hospital.
Dr Piamenta enlisted the help of Dr Amnon Shinar, who many years previously had taught her geography, the subject of her first PhD, and they managed to find funding to expand the service from the original plan of five hospitals to every major public hospital in the country. And with the teaching services of David Yellin College graduates Eti Lahav and Riki Segal-Cohen, Kav Or has lightened up the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.
We are three generations of education Amnon was my teacher and I was the teacher of Eti and Riki. We are like a family, said Dr Piamenta, who was named Israels Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 for what she describes as her lifes project.
World ORT, too, has a strong family identity and, when Drs Piamenta and Shinar decided that they needed help to take Kav Or further the Ministry of Education acted as matchmaker.
Its like being a parent who recognises that it is time for their child to marry and is happy to have found a very good family for the bride, Dr Piamenta said. Amnon and I are very glad that an organisation we can trust has taken [Kav Or] upon itself.
The Director of Sorokas Education Centre, Esther Friedman, is also delighted by the realisation of the Kadima Mada-Kav Or partnership. Soroka has long enjoyed the benefits of working with World ORT through the Kadima Mada SMILE project, in which 10th grade students from Makif Aleph High School join volunteers from Israels elite cadre of trainee air force pilots to bring friendship and scholarship support to young patients.
A maths teacher for 40 years, Ms Friedman said the new technology was vital to provide links between the children in hospital and their friends and teachers outside at any time of the day or night a real boost to the patients morale as well as helping them to keep up with their studies.
Their [regular] schools represent health and wellbeing and connecting to these items, and studying, brings them back to things which are familiar from the healthier part of their lives, she said. They put in the patients mind that they are healthy, that they will live. And I can only transmit this idea using new technology like the Interactive Whiteboard and computers which we have received from Kadima Mada.
That was not to underestimate the importance of the training which Kadima Mada will provide teachers and other staff so that the equipment can be used to its full potential, nor the human contact between teachers, patients and their families. The full effect of World ORTs support, when combined with the skill and care of the staff at the front line, can mean more than educating for life, it can mean life itself.
I started working in a hospital 20 years ago to help a boy recovering in the psychiatric ward, she said. He had tried to commit suicide because he was failing at maths. Such is the challenge of working in the hospital environment; I could not go back to teaching in a regular school. Fifteen years later I bumped into him in Beer Sheva and he had a wife and family and he was so grateful to me. What were doing is a very big part of the childs recovery.
The education programmes contribution to healing was also emphasised by Dr Adi Klein, Head of paediatrics at Hillel Yaffe, which has a large Arab as well as Jewish client base.
We know from many studies that when we are not occupied we feel pain much more than when our minds are busy, Dr Klein said. The computers which we have been donated from Kadima Mada are being used every day. I can assure you that two months ago, before we received this help, children especially teenagers were lying in bed with absolutely nothing to do. Most of the time the classroom was closed and there was no equipment and they had no way to fill their time. Now they have a day programme and educational and fun activities. It makes their stay here much more pleasant as much as a stay in hospital can be.
And the education provided is not confined to class work: there are also programmes which allow the children to learn about their illnesses and the treatments they have to undergo, the resultant understanding helping to alleviate stress.
Both Dr Klein and Ms Friedman expressed thanks for the help received so far.
Ms Friedman said: I hope we will be able to meet the educational needs of every hospitalised child that wants to learn and is capable of learning in every subject. Thanks to this equipment I hope that the children will be encouraged to spend a bigger proportion of their time in an educational environment while in hospital.
And she had a personal message for Mr and Mrs Setton: I want to thank them for everything they are doing for the sick children in Soroka and throughout Israel. What they are doing can not be taken for granted and they are to be blessed. I thank them not only for truly giving from their hearts but for making a real contribution for the good of the children, one that will improve their quality of life and help them deal with their situation.
World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer said it was a privilege for World ORT to partner with the SASA Setton Foundation.
In visiting the hospitals with Hilda and Philippe Setton I was introduced to an amazing family with a very deep commitment to the Jewish People and the State of Israel. They care sincerely about education and, more importantly, about the well being of every child. Their eyes while meeting the children and hospital staff said it all: love, care, mentshlichkeit, generosity. In this age of cynicism and materialism it is rare to meet people of this calibre and I look forward to this important project reaching new heights with their input.