An Opportunity to Contribute Cogo Blocks

Dec 8, 2018

When one drives into Kibbutz Sa’ad under a clear blue sky one gets the impression that this is a bright and peaceful holiday resort. However, as soon as one walks through the security fence and into the schoolyard, you are confronted with the reality of life near the border with Gaza. What a huge, heavy concrete roof and what thick walls! Even the windows are fitted with special security glass that will not shatter into a thousand pieces if hit by a rocket. The whole building is one big bunker, creating an oppressive feeling.

It is unbelievable that the children have to study in these conditions, always facing the risk of hearing the dreaded ‘Code Red’ missile alert, when they are ushered as quickly as possible to safety by their teachers. We realize that parents and grandparents sending their children off to school here is very different. When we as grandparents pick up our grandchildren from school, the worst we expect is for one to have fallen and chipped a tooth or grazed a knee. In Kibbutz Sa’ad, parents breathe a sigh of relief when another day passes without the sound of a missile alarm. This relief is compounded when there are multiple missile attacks day after day and their child returns home safely.

Today there is nothing to worry about; the children are playing outside and enjoying a game of football. Inside we are welcomed warmly by some of the team. Two teachers tell us more about the situation at the school, how they teach the children to live as positively as possible, how to respond in a missile alert and how to help one another. In so doing, they are taught not to react with hostility, but to hope for peace. Special attention is given to the children who are showing signs of trauma as a result of the tension and the attacks. They feel very passionately about loving and caring for the children. It is important that they have time for relaxation and creativity in order to relieve some of the stress.

That is one of the reasons we are visiting today. Ton has a suitcase full of Cogo blocks—a kind of Lego—donated by a project he works with at home. It was wonderful to be able to contribute in this way! It was therefore a festive moment when Ton placed his suitcase on the table and with a broad grin opened the various pockets that were full of cheerfully colored stones of many different shapes. The teachers and director enjoyed seeing how the children can use their imagination.

A little later the director lead us outside and showed us where the dog- and horse-training therapy takes place that raises the children’s confidence again after suffering traumatic experiences. It is with heavy hearts that we hear that this is needed, but what a great project!

We notice the remnant of a rocket right next to the school. About five years ago this missile drilled a big hole into the ground here. The team decided to use the resulting hole positively and planted an olive tree, a symbol of life and peace, a symbol of Israel, in it. It is already a decent-size tree! “We have to choose life, as stated in the Torah,” one of the teachers commented. Deeply touched and impressed by the strength and virtue of these people, we return to the car. As they say in Hebrew: Kol ha kavod, all respect and honour is due! We take Kibbutz Sa’ad into our hearts!