By Na’ama Sarfati Magill ‘19
If you were lucky enough to enjoy a delicious cookie sold by juniors Rochelle Dweck and Eden Chanko recently, you have most likely heard of a new Hesed opportunity brought to the school by junior Nina Glesby.
Glesby introduced an exciting and meaningful Hesed campaign to Heschel: Reece’s Rainbows. The main goal of the initiative is to “spread awareness for the orphan crisis and to share the faces of those in need,” said Glesby. She explained, “Many special-needs orphanages in Eastern Europe and other countries severely neglect their children … Children suffer from severe malnutrition, take part in self-injurious behaviors to stimulate themselves since they have no other interaction during the day, and are often sedated all day so that the orphanages don’t have to care for them.” Once the children have reached a certain age, some of them are sent to mental institutions where they are treated even worse and often die within a year.
The Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign, run by Reece’s Rainbows, is led by volunteers all over the world who take on the responsibility of raising $1000 for a child’s adoption. The grant helps these orphans and their families pay for adoption process fees and medical bills, which are often very high when adopting a child with special needs. Glesby first heard about Reece’s Rainbows after watching BBC’s documentaries Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children and Ukraine’s Forgotten Children. She explained, “I never realized how horribly the children in orphanages across the world are treated,” and she was extremely troubled by the “pictures of kids on the brink of death.” Horrified by the treatment of these helpless children, Glesby felt compelled to help.
Recruited by Glesby, Dweck and Chanko quickly joined to help the cause. Dweck explained that they have been fundraising through bake sales: “We started with an in-school bake sale and then did a public bake sale, and we are going to continue to do bake sales until we reach our goal!” They have already raised $500, half of the money necessary for the orphan they have chosen to help.
The work seems to be inspiring for everyone involved. Dweck explained, “I learned how easy it is to raise money in our local community and how a small action like a bake sale can change someone’s life forever.” She hopes to inspire others to help the cause. “It is truly incredible, the feeling of making a concrete impact on a child’s life and safety,” added Chanko. As Glesby explained, these orphans are in crucial near-death situations, and the money is, in a way, saving their lives.
Dweck and Chanko are only two of the sixteen Heschel students working to raise money, advocating for a total of eight orphans. The work that Reece’s Rainbows is doing is important and a cause that is not too difficult to support. The work these students have done is empowering, and anyone who is interested or has questions is encouraged to contact Nina Glesby for details.