Debbie Havusha’s blog – The Little Prince Cafe

Meeting Janine at The Little Prince Café

The Little Prince Café, well known to many Tel Aviv residents, is part cafe-restaurant, part used bookstore, and is located centrally on King George Street, next to Park Meir. This café is frequented by young and old and attracts both tourists and locals. It has an enchanting bohemian ambience.   In the company of yourself or of others, you are surrounded by countless shelves of books on all kinds of subjects in many different languages.  It is here that I met our dear family friend, Janine Vohsberg.  One of her favorite places is, The Little Prince Café.

Janine Vohsberg has worked tireless hours for the past twenty years as the Director for Israel’s Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.  With a small dedicated staff of 4, a small office ,and volunteers, the society raises funds, runs a multitude of in service programs and lobbies for more recognition of rights for those living with MS.  Janine invited me to attend a full day conference she was co-ordinating at the Renaissance Hotel in Tel-Aviv on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

The day of the conference was full of very interesting topics delivered in Hebrew on; wellness, managing chronic stress and nutrition.  It was during the end of afternoon presentation that Janine pulled me over and walked me to a nearby room.  She showed me another group of people who were also affected by MS.  However, in this room, their presenters were speaking in Arabic.  Both Arab speaking and Hebrew speaking groups came together with their caregivers and family members to learn how to live better lives with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

During the Q&A, Janine made sure to circulate the room and give the microphone to each and every one that had a question to ask.  She made sure that each question was answered.  When a question was posed that was not pertinent to the discussion at hand, Janine tabled it respectfully to another appropriate time.

The goals of the society are to allow all those affected with MS to live and manage full empowered lives with the appropriate supports.   Remarkably, both groups living in the same region are faced with a challenging condition that attacks many bodily systems while living in a tumultuous and divisive part of the world.

Every week in Israel, 3 more people in their twenties or thirties are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis that to date has no cure.  The unpredictable pattern that attacks the myelin sheath which coats all of our nerves, makes MS such a difficult journey.    There are presently around 6,000 people living with MS in Israel.  Janine frames the statistics to affecting 50,000 family members affected by MS.  Taking care of the whole family system is the credo. The society runs 23 support groups run by Social Workers and Psychologists.  This is the largest number of running support groups in Israel.  There is a summer camp co-ordinated for 180 children.   There is a 4 day vacation offered to 200 participants.  The participants are picked up from their homes while 40 wheelchair accessible hotel rooms await them.  This is a living testament of the devotion and passion of Janine Vohsberg.

A few days before I left Israel I wanted to meet Janine and make a donation to The Israel Multiple Sclerosis Society.  (www.mssociety.org.il)   We met again at the Little Prince Café!  Debbie

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Debbie Havusha’s blog – The Little Prince Cafe

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