Visit to Mexico Provides Respite for Israeli Students

A group of Israeli students who were deeply impacted by the attacks on October 7 traveled to Mexico for a healing visit of rest and rehabilitation.

This urgently needed opportunity for respite and cultural exchange not only gave 10 Israeli teens a chance to meet students from Colegio Olamí ORT in Mexico City and to learn about their country and culture, but also helped them begin to process the deep trauma they’ve experienced in a safe space with their peers.

The Israeli students, aged 15 to 18, came from World ORT Kadima Mada schools and projects throughout Israel, including from the Kfar Silver Youth Village, Siach School, Rabin School in Kiryat Yam, and the Ein Gedi boarding school. These brave and resilient young people were chosen because they have experienced unthinkable trauma, including the loss of close family members, parents, siblings, and friends. One student had previously left Ukraine, only to move to Israel to be faced once again with the terror of war.

Israeli students, with teachers and staff, visit ORT Olamí Mexico for a respite from the events of October 7.

The trip’s schedule was designed to not only be fun and educational, but to address the urgent emotional and mental health needs of these students, and included individual and group rehabilitation sessions. The team of consultants, social workers, and psychologists behind the trip was led by Dr. Moshe Leiba, World ORT Kadima Mada’s Chief Pedagogy and R&D Officer.

Olamí ORT families hosted the students for the two-week duration of the visit and ensured each child had a warm welcome. Emily, a 17-year-old student from Kfar Silver, was hosted by the family of Galia Capon, 17 years old, from Olamí ORT, who shared their experience.

Emily said: “I had so much fun getting to know the Mexican culture, to travel to Mexico City, to go with the family on their annual trip, to see nature and to breathe some clean air.”

Galia said: “I was so grateful to have Emily with us because I was very traumatized by October 7. We wanted to do something good to help Israel from here in Mexico. She’s now like my sister. Emily knows that she has a home here, and whenever she wants it, she can come and stay here and be with us.”

More trips are in the works to ensure all ORT students suffering from trauma have the opportunity to experience this healing respite. Each trip costs $30,000 for a group of 10 students.
Please donate and help us continue this urgent work.

The trip was also a healing opportunity for the professionals. Dr. Leiba accompanied the students and said: “These two weeks were one of the most powerful experiences in my life: we laughed, cried, remembered, talked, planned.”

“I connected deeply with the students in different aspects; they connected to me and each other. I came back exhausted physically and emotionally but with powerful, exciting, and fulfilling experiences for the coming period. The experience taught me a lot about resilience.”

Each student had a different experience in Mexico City – visiting the Modern Art Museum, attending street parties, eating in typical restaurants, visiting the Xochimilco canals – the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs – and the pyramids of Teotihuacán. The group had a four-day trip to Huateca Potosina, a resort with waterfalls, rappelling and canoes. They had the opportunity to join local indigenous people, building and cleaning their houses as part of a Tikkun Olam project.

Staff member Esti Diamant, head counselor from Kfar Silver, and Amelie Esquenazi, the World ORT representative for Latin America, had the opportunity to learn and discuss critical contemporary educational topics relating to Israel and the Diaspora.

The Mexican students also had the opportunity to hear directly from the Israelis about their experiences since October 7 during a special panel session. Each child had a story to tell that was difficult to comprehend. The Israeli students worked hard to explain how they felt and their Mexican peers supported them, showing them how they and the diaspora care for the safety of the Israeli people and the country.

River trip in Mexico

Dr. Moshe Leiba (with hat) and Israeli students on a river trip in Mexico.

On the last night, the group had a farewell party with their new Mexican friends and got ready to return home with renewed hope.

Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “It shows the strength and fantastic love within our global network. When doors can be opened from across the world to welcome a group of students who have been through such difficult times, and to give them an opportunity to forget about the troubles back home and have a unique experience, it’s a fantastic thing that we can do something like this for our students from Israel.”

“I look forward to many more great examples of cooperation in the future between these schools and these communities and many others from around the world.”

This experience was possible because of the effort of Dr. Leiba, Avi Meir, director of Olamí ORT, and because of the generosity of ORT donors. A second group of Israeli students is traveling to Los Angeles later this month, and more trips are being planned. Without the meaningful support that has flooded in since launching the Israel Emergency Fund, these brave and resilient students would not have these incredible opportunities.

View more photos from the trip here.

Israeli Students Visit Mexico for a Respite from trauma of October 7

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