Do you ever think that only the children of underprivileged families can be considered youth-at-risk? Or that children brought up in religious homes with strong spiritual backgrounds are immune to the pitfalls and temptations of the street? If so, meet Mordechai – and think again.
Mordechai is a 17-year-old boy who, according to the many social workers he’s come into contact with during his young life, was destined for either a life in prison or an early death. He was born into an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family and from birth he was immersed in a life filled with faith and dedication to God and His commandments.
Unfortunately, for reasons that can never truly be explained, from an early age Mordechai chose a destructive path that put him at odds with the cherished values of his family and community. From his very first years at elementary school, social workers say Mordechai suffered from functional and emotional problems. From the age of 12, Mordechai began stealing from stores, breaking into houses and businesses, and was arrested several times for breaking and entering and violence.
It was following a breach of the terms of house arrest that Mordechai was referred to the 4Zion funded Lachan Youth Village, where, after a long and difficult process, he finally began to turn his life around.
Mordechai’s social workers say that, at the beginning of his stay, he slept all day and argued with his counselors all night. Finally, Mordechai began to learn about the importance of being on time. He learned that the adults at the village were not looking to hurt him. He began paying attention to the staff after a year of fighting with them.
During his years at the youth village, the staff continued to believe in Mordechai and his talents and abilities. “Mordechai is clearly a smart boy. We at Lachan feel that when you show a boy that you believe in him, he will begin believing in himself. It’s difficult to pick the exact moment when Mordechai made the turnaround. There were successes and failures, crises and advances.”
This past June, Mordechai finished 12th grade at the village with a partial university diploma. According to Mordechai’s social worker, “Thanks to 4Zion’s support of the Lachan Youth Village, Mordechai is a different person with a real future ahead of him. This year he is dedicating himself to working and earning some money, completing his university exams, learning computers, and getting a driver’s license, and next year he plans on performing National Service.
“Time and time again, we at the Lachan Youth Village have seen how patience, encouragement and, yes, even some loving discipline can turn a youth-at-risk into a productive citizen. 4Zion’s donors are literally saving lives when they support this village!”