This is the city where Shuvu’s school is located adjacent to the prison. The mayor, Meir Nitzan, has declared that it is programs like Shuvu’s summer camp that prevent people in his town from going to jail. Diospolis, known by its Jewish name, Lod, has been singled out by the Israeli government as a social disaster. Substance abuse and crime rates are very high and 10% of the population are on welfare. Shuvu is keenly aware that we are in this city because G-d wants us to bring hope, happiness and Jewish heritage to children like Avital.
Avital is growing up without her mother or father. Her mother was tragically killed in a car accident when she was 6 years old. She lives with her grandmother and needed a special school that would help her experience a normal childhood. Avital came to Shuvu in tears. The tears flowed for weeks. She was a young orphan completely alone and needed her teachers to fulfill the role her parents never would. She needed to know that there was someone other than her grandmother that loved her and cared about her.
Avital was lucky. At Shuvu everyone had a smile and kind word for her. Avital has been with Shuvu for 5 years throughout winter, fall, spring and summer.
Living in the slums of Lod is never much fun, but in the summer when scores of children have no constructive activity the danger is grave. It is for girls and boys like Avital that Shuvu must continue providing a safe, educational and fun summer camp program.