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Teen Pages spoke to a handful of teens who didn’t allow the word “impossible” to get in the way of initiating incredible projects
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Have you ever thought of a way to save the world — or at least some of the people in your world? You may still be a teen, but don’t let that get in your way!
Teen Pages spoke to a handful of teens who didn’t allow the word “impossible” to get in the way of initiating incredible projects.
When 15-year-old Yaeli Ostrochier’s*, brother got divorced, her life turned upside down. Despite the confusion and turmoil she was going through at the time, she was able to think of others. Yaeli decided that she wanted to help other teens with divorced siblings.
“I knew there were other teens out there with divorced siblings,” says Yaeli, “yet there was no connection between us because the subject isn’t spoken about. I felt that if we could be in contact with each other, we could give each other chizuk, and also the knowledge that we are not alone.”
It was shortly after her brother’s divorce that Yaeli decided that she wanted to do something; it took several months for her to take action. She wrote the following essay and sent it to Mishpacha Teen Pages:
I appear to be a typical Bais Yaakov girl — your neighbor, classmate, or camp friend. Actually, I am a regular girl, but one thing about me sets me apart. Unless you’re my close friend, you would never guess that underneath my smiling facade and typical teenage complaining, I am hurting.
A little while back, my dreamy newlywed brother returned to my house broken and bewildered. My once carefree life came crumbling down, leaving me suffocating under the heavy weight of confusion and fear of the unknown. The cheerful wedding album was discreetly removed from the shelf, while my sweet sister-in-law was suddenly removed from my world. I thought my life would never be the same, and an hour would not go by without the stab of a painful memory piercing my heart.
My family stayed together throughout the long ordeal, and I’m fortunate to have supporting friends. But at times I feel so alone, as if I’m the only teenager out there with a sibling who is no longer married. Even my good friends have no idea what I’m going through, although I’m not such a private person. After telling them briefly after that fateful day, I rarely mention it; it is just too painful.
Sometimes I find myself in awkward situations and those are not very pleasant. Like the time someone asked if I had any married siblings. After responding in the negative, a helpful friend standing nearby piped up, “Wait! Didn’t Aryeh get married two years ago?” I mumbled some incoherent response and ran out of the room. Later in bed, thoughts of despair filled my head. Will I ever lead a normal life without constantly worrying about an insensitive comment piercing my heart? Will Aryeh ever get remarried… and stay married? Worst of all, pictures of my sweet nephew Shalom, now a product of a broken home, flitted in and out of my dreams.
I won’t say that all these challenges — and more — went away, but gradually life returned to its regular routine. Every now and then I get into a sad, melancholy mood where it’s hard to get this matter out of the forefront of my mind. But these moments do pass and now I lead a typical life with tests and friends occupying me most of the time. I definitely grew from this challenge and became more sensitive to other people. I now realize that you can never know what is going on under a girl’s top marks, fancy clothing, and popularity. Underneath her smooth facade can lay a broken soul and a worried heart, unbeknown to even some close friends.
I share this with you to give you a little peek into my life and a chance to fine-tune your sensitivity toward others. Although a girl may look carefree on the outside, inside she may be hurting… just like me.
If you also have a sibling who is divorced, I’d love if you would contact me so we can encourage each other.
The purpose of the essay was to connect with others in similar situations and to start a support group. “It took some time for me to write the essay,” says Yaeli, “because I had to decide what message I wanted to convey.”
What has she done for the support group? Yaeli established an e-mail account (that can be shared via Teen Pages) to establish connection among teens in similar situations. Though she isn’t 100 percent sure where she wants to go from here, she does have some plans. Yaeli would like to send out a monthly newsletter in which teens with divorced siblings can write articles, and share words of chizuk, personal stories, and coping skills. In addition to this, Yaeli hopes to pair girls together to speak to each other.
Chaya Rosen was in tenth grade when her baby brother was born with Down syndrome. Her parents knew little about the condition and were not given the tools to present it to their other children the right way.
“My father took the news quite hard and it was very difficult when he told us about my brother,” recalls Chaya. “I decided that no child or teen should ever have to hear the news that way. Siblings of children with Down syndrome are very special — they were handpicked by Hashem to be this child’s siblings, which is a really big compliment from Hashem. In addition, though there are aspects of Down syndrome that can be challenging, it’s usually not as terrible as people feel it may be at the beginning of the journey.
In fact, most families I know love their special child and cherish him more than you can imagine. Kids with Down syndrome can be incredible people and really do light up their family’s lives. My brother certainly does. I wanted to present Down syndrome with honesty, sensitivity, but most importantly, with positivity.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha’s Teen Pages, Issue 37)
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