By Chaim Leiter
I am sitting by my computer trying to come up with the opening line that will catch your attention get you to read the article and then pull out your credit card and help send a kid to camp. A sign comes up on my screen telling me I have 14 minutes until my computer will shut down to install updates. If I haven’t saved my work then I should take a minute to do so. I try to figure away how to delay this and I can’t. It’s automatic. It’s out of my control. I usually write too long. So let’s see if I can do this in the allotted time.
There is another timeline that is looming and also one that I have no control over. The summer starts in 7 weeks. And again there is no money to make camp for the Jewish children of Ukraine. Yes there are rich people there. I am not talking about them or collecting for them. I am writing about the kids that need others to look out for them. I am writing about the orphans, the kids from broken homes and the kids who have abusive parents. Kids who for a whole year can’t wait for camp to happen, that during the past 10 months of unrest had to most to be worried about. There are no government programs there that help them, in Ukraine. The government there can barely help themselves.
5 minutes left. These kids come from the towns that you probably have never heard of. Places like Krivoy Rog and Uzhgerod or Khmelnytskyi. I have spent the last week calling the Shluchim from those places and they can barely keep their orphanages open. One Shliach had to close his orphanage. “Yes”, they say, “We have many kids to send to camp, kids that camp will do wonders for.” But especially now with the unstable situation and gas and food prices soaring, the currency having devaluated by 50% they have no money to send their kids to camp or make camp for them.
Most of us reading the news from Ukraine are abhorred by what we see. A Jewish Mayor shot, shuls firebombed, hundreds of people killed and hoax papers were given out on the Seder night requiring Jews to register. For the people of Ukraine this is their life currently.
I spoke to one of the Shluchim from Kharkov, a city that is seeing a lot of action unfortunately, and programs go on as usual. It’s during times like these that people and especially children need know that they can rely on us not to forsake them. The poor and specifically their children are the ones who lose the most in these situations.
With all this going on, I was amazed and humbled by the staff of Camp Gan Yisroel of Ukraine – A.K.A. Yeka.
Regardless of the situation they are rallying to make camp happen again this year. Last year the staff put together the entire $60,000 (it cost us $650 a camper) to give our kids a summer. And that daunting number has us scrambling again. Camp is in 7 weeks. With some donations coming in already and some funds left over from last year (Baruch Hashem, we were a Jewish organization that actually had a surplus!) we are currently just over $10,000.
We have 50,000 more to go. Amazingly, after last years’ experience, we have learned how far every donation goes. A bulk, some 40% of our budget came from donations of 18/36/50/100/180 dollars. Please don’t shy away. We did it last year only through your help.
My computer restarted long ago. I missed that deadline. Please don’t let this more real deadline pass. When times are tough that’s when we really shine.
Let’s light up these kids summer. G-d willing let this tip the scale and bring Moshiach to end this Galus and we can make Yeka in Yerushalayim.
To donate and find out more about us, visit campyeka.org