'The scary uncertainty has become routine'

This blog posting about living near Gaza was contributed by Ilona Lichtenstein, 25, who moved to Israel from Belarus 19 years ago with her family. She lives at the JAFI Ibim Student Village near Sderot.

I live in Ibim, a student village which is also an absorption center for young people who have immigrated from the FSU, South America and Ethiopia. The village – which is just three minutes away from Sderot – is my home base. My days are filled with studying Human Resources at Sapir College and with coordinating a JAFI program for Lone Soldiers (soldiers whose families don’t live in Israel) which is housed right here at the village.

A Lone Soldier reunites with his mother. JAFI photo

The Lone Soldier project offers so many benefits to its participants! It’s actually an amazing program which provides financial aid, a home, help throughout the time you are doing military service, ways to save money – plus an awesome opportunity to interact with Israeli students at the village. Yet despite all that we offer, it’s a challenge to get soldiers to move here, to an area so close to where Kassam rockets have fallen.

Our village itself has not actually taken direct hits from rockets, but Kassams have fallen in close proximity and with every warning siren that goes off, we fear that this time we won’t be as lucky and we might get hit.

Currently we at the village are putting the finishing touches on increased protection for our housing so that every apartment has a “safe room.” Yet the situation remains the same – an uneasy feeling throughout the day.

Each morning when I wake up, I have this feeling of uncertainty, of not knowing what today will bring. I feel this most acutely when I go out to Sderot with some of the Lone Soldiers.

The scary uncertainty has now become routine and yet none of the residents of Ibim want to leave our village, which has become such a home for us. Although we have faced many unpleasant situations, I have grown fond of this area. I hope that it will once again be peaceful here so that we can move on with our lives. We just want to resume our studies, our work, and just enjoy our day-to-day life.

- Ilona Lichtenstein