Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Where the Handicapped Find Independence

by Ilana Tovey

'Kanaf', a non-profit voluntary organization, was founded in November 1997 by Linette Rofe, herself a seriously handicapped person. 'Kanaf' caters to the free time of the physically handicapped.

It is no secret that the lives of the physically handicapped are a constant up-hill battle - physically, financially and socially. They are encumbered daily by such obstacles as getting on public transport, (only 2 Dan buses are equipped for the handicapped), climbing stairs (most official offices are on the upper floors, many without a lift), and entering places of entertainment. Their monthly allowance from the National Insurance is N.S. 1,600, hardly a princely sum to live on, if the person is unable to work. It needs no stretch of imagination to conjure up the problems connected with the social life of a physically handicapped person. Many suffer from problems connected with rejection, while other are reluctant to come to terms with their disability and identify with the handicapped.

In 1997, when Linette Rofe was considering setting up such an organization, she was hampered in her efforts by 'the invasion of privacy' law, which meant that no official organization was willing to divulge specific lists of handicapped people. Linette, resourceful and vital as ever, overcame this problem by sending invitations to a meeting of the handicapped to the relevant public organizations, who in turn, dispatched them to the individuals concerned. As a result of this 'operation,' 150 people arrived at the meeting, questionnaires were distributed, and the necessary information obtained. Thus 'Kanaf' came into being. Today, 'Kanaf' has over 200 members, who came from the Sharon area - Herzliah/Rananna/Kfar-Saba/Hod Hasharon/Ramat Hasharon, and even as far afield as Rishon Lezion and Petach Tikvah.

The Community Center 'Bet Foster' in Herzliah, offered their premises as a meeting place which has become the centre for their social activities. Different groups have been formed such as wheelchair dancing, (where a trained dancer partners a wheelchair dancer), swimming, ping-pong, and a community theater. All these groups are participated in with the utmost seriousness by its members. The wheelchair dancing was recently shown on the Second Channel of Television, and was received with great acclaim. All these activities have demanded funding which they only received with difficulty. In this direction, Herzliah Municipality has been supportive, as has the Municipality of Ramat Hasharon. ESRA has also been instrumental in the setting up and guiding of 'Kanaf.' However, even with this support 'Kanaf' is in need of financial assistance. For instance their wheelchair dancers are lacking 20 extra wheelchairs in the ever-growing demand for this particular kind of dancing.

'Kanaf' is in urgent need of experienced country dancers who would be willing to partner wheelchair dancers, on a weekly basis. They are also seeking volunteers in the sphere of computers. Such volunteers need only understand the workings of a computer, not necessarily be experts in the field. Anyone interested in volunteering, should contact Linette Rofe at Tel: 052 954763. Send letters to: Israel, P.O. Box 20428, Tel Aviv 67012.

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