October 4, 2003 was a beautiful, warm, and sunny Saturday. Following an idyllic family day trip to the beach, nine-year-old Oran Almog, his parents, his brother and sister, his grandparents, his aunt, and his cousin stopped at a favorite seaside restaurant for lunch together. The restaurant was jointly owned by Jewish and Arab families, and was a favorite attraction along the seafront.
The family loved spending time at the seaside. Oran’s grandfather had been one of the founders of the Israeli Navy in the 1950s and his father had served there as well. The sea was in the family’s blood, and they relished the time they spent together on the beach and in the water.
As the family sat at their table, a 29-year-old woman walked by looking at each of the customers, and then blew herself up in the middle of the restaurant, murdering 21 people, including 4 children, and injuring 60 others.
Tragically, Oran’s father Moshe, his grandparents Zev and Ruth, his brother Tomer, and his cousin Assaf were all murdered in the attack.
Oran’s mother Orly, sister Adi, and aunt Galit were each seriously injured. And Oran suffered the worst injuries of all – losing his eyesight and suffering injuries to his head and upper body.
Oran spent more than a year in the hospital recovering, and has spent many more years since in rehabilitation treatments.
“What I fear most is not death,” says Oran. “I know what it is like to lose close relatives. What I fear most is having others experience that pain.”
OneFamily has been at the side of Oran, his mother, and his family throughout their painful yet extraordinary journey of resilience. Their journey has been – and continues to be – long, debilitating, tragic, and excruciatingly painful. Yet not only has Oran achieved a remarkable level of post-terror rehabilitation, he is realizing the ambitions and dreams that he had before his life was shattered by terror. It is astonishing how he repeatedly overcomes his physical constraints to live a miracle. From 2004-2011 Oran participated in OneFamily’s Youth Division, which hosts 350 youth, at three annual camps and ongoing individual and group support programs and events. These have provided Oran and the other bereaved and maimed youth with a unique experience of release and healing, from which they continually emerge revitalized. Oran has received consistent nurturing, mentoring, counseling, and emotional support from his OneFamily team – his case worker, his counselor, OneFamily Big Brother, and peers. He received a OneFamily Bar Mitzvah twinning in 2006.
Oran is now one of a family of 450 people in our Young Adults Division who have been maimed, bereaved, and traumatized in terror attacks.
In the time since the attack, Oran has become a spokesman for his remaining extended family. He talks about how his father, his grandfather, his grandmother, his brother, and his cousin were murdered, and of the difficulties he has had coming to grips with his fears and his new reality.
The family’s love of the sea runs strong in Oran. He has become an accomplished sailor, and has been a candidate for Israel’s disabled sailing team in international competitions. He addressed a packed crowd at the opening ceremony of the Maccabiah games in 2005, and drew a standing ovation for his words of inspiration and courage to the assembled athletes: “After what I have gone through, I know that even if they hurt you, they can’t defeat you. And on this evening, I am here to tell you that if we remain united and continue to keep our “together”ness, no one can beat us.”
In November 2011, Oran joined the Israel Defense Forces as a soldier in the Intelligence Corps, despite his total blindness and his horrific experiences. He views it as the next logical step in the life he was raised to live.
Oran is a living, walking miracle.
OneFamily will be at his side for the rest of his life. We will continue to invest in Oran and to empower him – and all of our young terror victims – to overcome the effects of terror, to successfully complete their education, and to achieve their independence.
After all, that is what family do for each other. That is the Power of Together.
If you would like to send Oren a message or to make a donation to invest in his future please click here: http://www.onefamilytogether.org
About the Author: OneFamily is the premier national organization that rehabilitates, reintegrates and rebuilds the lives of Israel's thousands of victims of terror attacks. Please visit www.onefamilytogether.org for more information.
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