Kanaf Shel Ahava
“Wing of Love” – “Kanaf Shel Ahavah”
Our Mission: To rehabilitate deviant youth from the fringe of society, by helping them to complete their school studies, overcome their difficulties, develop vocational skills, and reintegrate successfully into society as productive citizens.
Our Target Group: 14-20 year-old boys who have been referred for our full-time rehabilitation program by the juvenile courts and welfare authorities. All the boys are from disadvantaged homes, at the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum. Some 30% are from families of Ethiopian origin.
Our History: Wing of Love, Kanaf shel Ahavah in Hebrew, was founded in 2003, to provide a therapeutic framework for disadvantaged youth within the wildlife park of Kibbutz Kfar Menachem. We won our first tender from the Welfare Ministry in 2005 and opened an unlocked hostel for young offenders, where they could return to their studies, engage in outdoor work and vocational training, and benefit for animal-assisted therapy. A change of management in 2013 led to Wing of Love moving home to Moshav Revakhah near Kiryat Gat. At that time, too, the Board of Lachan successfully took over responsibility for the framework. In 2014, Wing of Love had its first intake of sexual offenders, in the hope that these boys could be rehabilitated – to a point of zero expectation of recidivism – and helped to re-integrate safely into society.
Our Projects: All our projects are intertwined and together they provide an optimal holistic framework for rehabilitating deviant boys.
- School program: Every boy at Wing of Love studies to complete the 12-year school curriculum, under the auspices of the Education Ministry, and sits the matriculation exams in a variety of subjects, including math, English, civics, computers, history. His daily timetable alternates school work in the classroom, with outdoor work on the farm, and therapy. National Service volunteers regularly help the boys in greatest need on a one-to-one basis with their schoolwork, which contributes to their progress.
- The farm program: The farm program includes horticultural work on organic vegetable plots and caring for the horses, goats, and chickens. All the boys work in small groups on the farm, in addition to their daily schoolwork. Feeding and caring for all the animals provide useful lessons in friendship and affection, as well as vulnerability and security, important elements in well-being and mental health. Their nurturing work leads to discussion of intimate feelings. The boys are encouraged to take responsibility and lead projects on the farm.
iii. Therapy: All the boys receive animal-assisted therapy, group therapy, and individual counseling. Each boy is helped to discover his own interests, develop his talents and life skills, while fostering his motivation to integrate successfully in society. Each boy’s progress is under constant observation. Each boy receives feedback, knows exactly what he has to do to progress to the next step. When a boy meets the expectations of the program, he goes up a step, gaining credit, responsibility, and new privileges.
- The vocational program: The boys learn good work habits through their farm work as well as by working in our carpentry. In both settings, they take responsibility for doing their assignment in the given time and to a high standard, so that they take pride in their work. The carpentry allows the older boys to learn business skills, including pricing products, accounting, and dealing with clients. The boys are helped to find work outside the framework in the last few months before they graduate. They learn to open a bank account and budget their money.
- Contributing to society: The boys run a regional food depot where they collect food donations, sort this into parcels, and then distribute food parcels, in partnership with two other NGOs: the boys grow the vegetables; Leket Israel delivers additional vegetables and fruit to our depot; and youth at risk from the region join the Wing of Love boys every week to pack all the food into parcels which they deliver to the needy in the area. Helping needy families and the elderly is an important element in the boys’ therapeutic program. Their contribution to society also includes helping neighbors with home maintenance and gardening. For deprived children who have always tried to take whatever they can, learning to think of others’ needs and to give to others is highly important.
- Sports and team-building activities: The boys take part every week in challenging team-building and leadership activities outdoors, led by counselors of the NGO Aharai. Several times a year they go on field trips, sometimes with other youth at risk, give of their best and often win first place in competitions. The boys also play football twice a week, under the auspices of the Ha-po’el Club, funded by the National Insurance special projects for youth at risk. National Service volunteers organize social events every week.
Our Impact: The fact that some 40% of the offenders have their criminal cases closed by the time they graduate, enables these boys to get on with their lives and leave behind their past mistakes. The others, those who received stiffer sentences, will still have some supervised community work to complete after they leave and before their files can be finally closed. Some 80% of the boys manage to complete the two-year program and to return to normative society is the most powerful evidence of the success of our program. The spectacularly good scholastic results achieved in 2015 won Wing of Love a Certificate of Appreciation from the Education Ministry. In the last year, four boys completed their sentences; two are now doing a year of voluntary national service, and the other two have reintegrated well into local schools in their home towns. One of the latter already has a date for his induction to the IDF, like most other boys of his age.
Budget: The annual budget is about $1 million. Some 90% of this comes from the Welfare Ministry, as it is the State’s responsibility to provide board and lodging, clothing and medication and education for youth who have been removed from their families by court order