Lending a helping hand (illustration)
Lending a helping hand (illustration)Flash 90

They never dreamed they'd have to deal with it one day.

Like any other average, typical family, mental illness was as distant a concept to them as life on another planet. They never quite realized just how close to reality it may be, or the frightening fragility and closeness of the thin line separating between normalcy and insanity.

In fact, many of them started out as successful contributors to society, beloved spouses and parents, before a nervous breakdown or a slow mental demise suddenly sealed their fate.

Now they are locked behind those invisible bars separating them from the rest of humanity, passing their days in the darkness and wrenching pain of humiliation, with no one to offer a hand in dignity and friendship, and to say that they are still respected and cherished as they were before.  For many, the sheer shame of their sudden helpless state snuffs out any desire to live, to keep on going and hoping for a better future.

Out in the sunshine, courageous, caring individuals brave the chasm and reach out to their brothers and sisters on the other side.  Their visits, gifts and concern mean so much more than just friendly gestures of care.  They provide the patients with that which they thirst for most of all: the assurance that, at least in some people's eyes, their dignity remains intact. That they are deserving of friendship and of love. For some, this spells the difference between a slow death of the soul, and a healing born by renewed hope.

Zimra VaChessed's volunteers do not stop at visits and gifts.  Understanding that, with their breadwinner gone, the families are struggling tremendously yet are too ashamed to ask for help and expose their story, Zimra VaChessed provides them with food and provisions to carry them through the holidays.  Little gift packages for the children "from Daddy" help keep their relationship intact.  Special trips for patients give moments of happiness and remind them that there is a beautiful world outside, waiting to accept them back with open arms.

The list is endless.  It is a list of small deeds, which together form a picture larger than life.  Souls reborn.  Dignities restored.  Families pieced back together.

You, too, can take part in this enormous act of making the world a better place for everyone.