In the midst of all the political problems we face, life has to go on for the disabled in Israel. I wrote three weeks ago about a village, Aleh Hanegev, that cares for the disabled of all ages 24/7. See blog http://haifadiarist.blogspot.com/2010/05/drumming-on-heart-strings.html
I received a comment from one reader complaining that “Aleh encourages parents to institutionalize their severely disabled children thereby denying them the warmth and love of family living that is every child's entitlement. It siphons off precious government and charitable funding that could be channeled instead toward assisting these children while they live with their parents and siblings.
While the rest of the enlightened world has been progressing away from institutionalization (actually shutting them down) because of its proven detriment to children condemned to live there, Israel has actually been promoting and expanding this obsolete option.
Parents of disabled children, like myself, must fight an uphill battle to win even paltry government assistance because of Aleh's detrimental influence.”
This made me think, was there any justification for this point of view? Then I received the following letter from the parent of one of the disabled living at Aleh Hanegev
"I would like to share with you my personal experience with Aleh Negev, a rehabilitative village for severely disabled young adults in Israel’s southern region.
I raised my son, who suffers from a degenerative form of epilepsy, in the US until the age of 16.5, battling to find stimulating day programs and appropriate therapies. In doing so I gave up a career and moved to 3 different countries, until I found Aleh Negev in Israel.
I never thought the day would come that I would have to make the tough decision to place my son in a home. I truly and maybe naively believed that I would be able to care for all his needs as long as I live.
But fate had a different plan for me. My son was deteriorating, and he lost the ability to speak, walk or care for himself.
He needed to be fed, changed and cared for 24 hours a day, while undergoing debilitating seizures at any time.
I found myself dependent on unreliable caregivers whom I could not trust with my son, and I realized that this solution, although very convenient for me at times, was not the best care possible for my son.
I came to Aleh Negev as a tourist, and I saw a place where dedicated, hardworking people take care of the most severely handicapped children in a loving and supporting professional environment. These people are indeed blessed to be a part of this wonderful project.
My dilemma was extremely difficult, but I decided to bring my son to Aleh Negev and move to Israel with my family to be near him.
Aleh Negev provides these unfortunate children with state of the art, outstanding care that I have not seen anywhere else.
As a responsible parent, I think I made the best choice for my son, and for the rest of our family.
Aleh Negev gives me the peace of mind of knowing that my son is receiving the best care possible: that he is in a stimulating and caring environment, in a place where all his needs are taken care of, in a comfortable setting and a loving surrounding. "
There is no specific solution to this parental conflict, each case must be treated as an individual case.