I gave birth to Yona in Yemen, and we made aliyah to Israel when she was eight months old. The child was very light skinned.
We settled at the Ein Shemer camp. There were big tents with poles and blankets, and we would bring food home with food stamps. At that time, I was still breastfeeding the baby and she was healthy and fine.
In the winter they came to me and said, 'give us the baby, so she won't catch a cold and be sick. We will keep her at the hospital [nursery], at the family health center, and you can come and breastfeed her whenever you want.' And indeed, I would go breastfeed her in the evening and the morning, and they would feed her during the rest of the day. At that time too, the child was completely healthy.
This went on for a week, and then one evening I came to breastfeed her as usual, and the next morning I came again and couldn't find her. I asked, 'where is Yona, my child?' They told me, 'she vomited at night and we took her for treatment in Karkum.' I insisted, I asked to see her. We were told that they didn't know exactly where she was.
The next day we moved to the north, to Dayr al-Qassi (later Elkosh), and during this whole time we waited for a response, but they never told us where the child was. My father kept searching and asking about her but didn’t get an answer.
Old-time Yemenites didn't ask too many questions, they believed everything they were told. Times were hard, it was difficult to make a living, transportation was difficult, and we were treated callously. As time passed, we despaired.
After 18 years we received army call-up papers for Yona, but nothing changed, and we didn't receive answers. A year and a half later we travelled to Jerusalem to look for her at the Ministry of Interior – they summoned us and covered the travel expenses. Our neighbor escorted us there, we didn't know the way or the language and needed translating.
At the Ministry of Interior, we submitted Yona's identification details, but they didn't find her there either. Until the day he died, my father insisted that she was still alive.
Until the day he died, my father insisted that she was still alive.