SHALVA was founded in 1990 by Kalman and Malki Samuels. The reason it was created dates back to 1977 when the Samuels' 11 month-old son, Yossi, received a faulty DPT vaccination that rendered him blind, deaf and acutely hyperactive. For eight years, Yossi lived in a closed world with no one able to penetrate his bubble.
Yossi's disabilities took their toll on his family. Providing him with constant loving care, they became exhausted and isolated. Many professionals and well-intentioned friends suggested placing Yossi in an institution. But Malki refused and vowed to God that if He helped Yossi, she would dedicate herself to helping other children with special needs and their families.
Several years later her prayers were answered. When Yossi was eight years old, a Deaf special education teacher named Shoshanna Weinstock penetrated his wall-of-silence via Hebrew finger spelling into his hand in much the same way that Anne Sullivan had reached Helen Keller. Shoshanna taught Yossi his first word - shulchan (Hebrew for "table") - and, almost immediately, the walls of his personal prison collapsed. Malki remembered her promise, and soon thereafter she and Kalman established SHALVA, which means "peace of mind" in Hebrew.
Despite the loss of crucial developmental years, Yossi is an extremely intelligent young man blessed with the phenomenal ability to learn things, such as current events, wine and cars. Yossi regularly corresponds with many public figures. In April 2012, he met with former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and in December 2007, former President George W. Bush invited Yossi to the White House Chanukah Party.
The story of Yossi is the same as that of thousands of other Israeli families who choose to raise their children with special needs at home instead of institutionalizing them. In Yossi's merit, and because of the love of his parents, today many families can deal with their realities and better cope with their challenging situation successfully in order to lead typical, healthy lives.