Hamas’s attack on the South on October 7 and the subsequent war forced many families to evacuate the region, spreading out across the country in hotels and other organized areas. This left thousands of children and teens unable to go to school or continue in their regular routines.
To help solve this problem, the Education Ministry set up temporary schools for displaced youth and helping them manage the day to day with the kids is the army’s Education and Youth Corps.
The soldiers in the Education and Youth Corps generally work across a variety of sectors, educating both soldiers and youth, but now, the corps has mainly been diverted to helping with displaced kids.
“We have embedded ourselves into the communities with the aim of strengthening the homefront’s resilience,” said commander of the IDF Preparation Unit Lt.-Col. Ella Goral. “We’re creating a routine. We opened educational centers and programs all across the country.”
The soldiers are working in a variety of capacities by supporting the formal education during school hours and by running after-school activities and programs for the children.
“We want to give our best to the kids and teens,” said Goral. “And we’re also helping new olim with their absorption into the country.”
The soldiers are having a positive impact on the kids
Goral added that the kids seem enthusiastic and happy for the support of the soldiers.
“Children need a routine, and that’s why we’re there,” she said. “The children take part and are enthusiastic. We made personal connections with them immediately.”
The soldiers are assigned regardless of their regular jobs and according to the needs of the Education Ministry, so many of them have been diverted from their regular work and find themselves working with an entire demographic.
“Some of the soldiers usually work with other soldiers, and now they’re dealing with civilians,” said Goral. “My soldiers usually work with teens, and now they’re dealing with younger children.”
In order to make sure that they are doing their best for the people they’re assigned to help, all the soldiers who are working with different demographics are getting extra training on the go so that they can be available while also giving assistance that is suited to the ages they are working with.
Doing the job right is key, Goral explained, because these soldiers are the most stable support for the evacuees’ education system. They were the first organized effort, having started on the fourth day of the war, and they are there to stay for as long as they’re needed.
“There were many volunteers, but now there are less of them, and at the end of the day, we’re the most stable force, and our soldiers work very closely with the kids themselves,” she said.
Goral said her soldiers understand the importance of their mission.
“Especially now, we’re working out of solidarity with the evacuees,” she said.