Matan B’Seter Bambi helps people whose poverty is magnified by debilitating medical or social crises.
Many of the parents of Bambi’s families suffer from serious illnesses which prevent them from caring for themselves or for their families– chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiac disease, muscular dystrophy, and a host of other disabling conditions.
Bambi also supports families of children with serious or chronic illnesses, such as Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, blindness, cystic fibrosis, and developmental disorders. These families must grapple with a host of exhausting medical issues and do not have the financial means to alleviate them.
In addition, Bambi provides help to widows, widowers, and abused women who have no support system.
Here are a few of Bambi’s stories:
The father worked for many years in the printing industry as a senior professional. Suddenly, he started to show changes in his personality and was mistakenly treated for psychiatric illness. Only after two years was he finally diagnosed with brain cancer. He belatedly began radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
Meanwhile, he was fired from work. The bills started to pile up and the mortgage on the apartment accrued a huge amount of interest.
His wife is a very gentle person, and for a long time she had a hard time adjusting to her husband’s illness and their new economic situation. The biggest problem was that she was ashamed to tell her story and to ask for help.
When she turned to Bambi, the situation was already catastrophic. With their mortgage debt at 125,000 shekels ($36,000) and a huge unpaid water bill, they were in danger of being forced out of their home.
Bambi came to an agreement with the water company who gave them a financial plan to pay their bill over time. Bambi also negotiated with their bank to reduce their debt. When the bank realized their situation was so dire that a tzedaka organization was helping them, they agreed that the family would pay only a fifth of the amount to erase the entire debt.
A young mother of four children had severe vascular disease in her leg. After two unsuccessful surgeries in Israel, her doctors felt there was no alternative but to amputate her leg. While searching for a second opinion, another method of treatment was discovered. It was available only in Switzerland and cost more than $10,000. The family had done their best to raise $6,000. Then they turned to Bambi to help raise the additional $4,000, a substantial sum of money in those days.
When Bambi heard of the case she said, “How can we amputate the leg of a mother of four children without trying the alternative surgery? We must send her to Switzerland; somehow, we will get the money.” Thank G-d, Bambi found a donor, the treatment was successful and the young woman’s leg was saved. Later, Bambi applied for reimbursement from the Israeli insurance company to repay the cost of the operation.
Sometimes, it’s a middle class family that is struck by tragedy. When “Avi,” a 40 year-old father, was stricken with Parkinson’s disease, his wife “Ilana” had to quit her job as a teacher to take care of him. Bambi subsidized the family with monthly checks.
After Avi died, Ilana returned to work and told Bambi that no more help was needed. Soon after, Bambi received a donation from Ilana with a note attached: “No one will understand more than I what it meant to get your check every month…”
“Rachel” married in her late thirties and had recently given birth to twin boys. There was great joy in the family–until a few months later when her husband’s cancer, which had been in remission, came roaring back.
Rachel was an immigrant from France and had no family in Israel to help her. With her husband sick, she had no one to take care of her twins while she worked to support the family. She was collapsing under the strain of doing everything herself. Bambi gave her money for childcare and housekeeping so she could work. “You saved my life,” Rachel told Bambi on more than one occasion, “I simply don’t know what I would have done without Bambi.”
The father of this family is a teacher. Just after Sukkot, they were traveling back to their home from Jerusalem. The road was very bumpy and the car bounced over a particularly bad pothole. Tragically, the wife’s spinal cord was severed and she died immediately.
The family has five children, the oldest being only eight years old. The father is now taking care of the children and a few of the women on the moshav are helping out.
The situation is magnified because neither set of grandparents of this young couple is able to help. His father is very sick and her mother is in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis. The wife was the one helping her mother until this tragedy happened. Bambi is now helping this family make ends meet.
Sometimes, Bambi provides for emotional needs. One young boy had grown up in the shadow of his three sisters, who are all in wheelchairs and suffer from a genetic disease. At a fundraising event where Bambi spoke about this family, a woman approached her about giving a donation to purchase a special gift for this “healthy” boy. She empathized with him because she had grown up in the shadow of a sick sister and she felt that she had been robbed of her childhood.
When the young boy received the gift of a motorized car, he climbed in and exclaimed, “At last, I have my own wheelchair!” It was the first time in several years that Bambi saw joy on his face.
The Story of “Nofia”
Bambi met Nofia when she delivered her second child. She was an orphan and her husband was a drug addict who abused her. She did not know how to deal with it. She did not have a supportive family where she could seek advice to deal with her problems.
Her husband’s physical violence became so unbearable that one night, Nofia left home with her children. She came to Bambi for food. After finding Nofia a safe place to live and child care, Bambi arranged for her to receive job training to rebuild a life for her and her children.
Matan B’Seter Bambi is a 501(c3) tax-exempt charity