On October 7, Israel witnessed one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in its history, leaving the world in shock. Innocent lives were tragically lost as Hamas terrorists invaded homes in Israel’s southern regions – including a nature party nearby. What was meant to be a celebration of love turned into a heart-wrenching tragedy, leaving thousands of individuals shattered, lost, and struggling to recover. 

The Secret Forest, a sanctuary for renewal nestled in the mountains of Cyprus, was deeply moved by these events. In response, they have decided to take action. To support the survivors of this tragic event, they have dedicated a portion of their village villas for the purpose of healing.

Working alongside numerous qualified Israeli therapists and counselors specializing in trauma and anxiety, they have developed a unique program set amidst the forest. This program offers a five-day journey immersed in nature, with a primary focus on nurturing the wounded soul.

“We’re not talking here about work that is post-trauma,” says Zohar Wilson, a psychotherapist and volunteer workshop facilitator at the Secret Forest. “This is work that’s actually in the trauma. The trauma is happening now. It is critical to provide support as close to the trauma itself.”

First Arrival at the Secret Forest

Within a remarkably short span after the attacks, the first group of 60 survivors arrived at this healing haven. 

“We decided to open our gates and welcome [survivors] at no cost,” shares Yoni Kahana, the owner and CEO of the Secret Forest. “I was sure that 50, 60, 70, maybe 100 people would respond. About 1,400 people registered within a day or two.” 

Each day was thoughtfully structured, featuring a wellness program that includes healing and touch therapies, guided breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, circle of listening, support groups, hydrotherapy, sound healing, meditative walks in nature, and more. Participants had the freedom to choose when and where they wished to engage, while therapists were always on hand to identify and offer support to those in need.

Psychotherapist and workshop facilitator, Zohar Wilson, leads a group session. Photo: Nir Davidzon

After a week in this healing environment, signs of progress and healing were evident among many participants. People came together, shared their stories, laughter filled the air, and hugs offered solace. As they bid farewell to the dedicated team, gratitude and tears flowed freely.

The demand for this transformative program at the Secret Forest is immense, with such a long waiting list of survivors eager to embark on their own healing journeys. For the initial three weeks, the Secret Forest covered all expenses and the therapists volunteered their time. However, to sustain this invaluable work, the center requires outside support.

“When trauma like this happens [to people], they wake up every single day on October 7,” Wilson states. “If it’s October 23 now, they’ll wake up on October 7 again the next day. We want to ‘now’ them, so that if they wake up on November 7, then yesterday was November 6.”

Wilson also shares the importance of having experienced clinical staff, such as an Israeli MD, on board. He emphasizes that the program is intended to gently support survivors by providing safe and comfortable accommodations, nourishing and enriching food, and a sense of structure through classes, workshops, group sessions, and more.

Supporting the Initiative

When one first enters the peaceful serenity of the Secret Forest, the space automatically forms a cocoon of comfort, distanced from the harshness of the rest of the world. Birds sing out, trees form a canopy above the property, and a sparkling river runs alongside. 

Still, for survivors, deeper spiritual and emotional work is needed to overcome their still-fresh trauma.

“All the trees around you give you a feeling of serenity,” shares Zohar Sharabi-Ayal, a survivor of the attack at the Nova Trance Music Festival. “The external serenity lets you relax inside, which is very hard to do in Israel.” 

For Sharabi-Ayal, one of the most valuable parts of the program was the group discussions that were held each day. For her, these intimate and heartfelt discussions allowed her to feel less alone in her grief and guilt, to see that many others were in the same place as her.

Zohar Sharabi-Ayal connects with a fellow survivor. Photo: Nir Davidzon

The subsidized cost for each participant in the five-day healing program is 1,000 euros. Fortunately, the IsraAID humanitarian organization has stepped in with financial support. This has allowed the Secret Forest to launch an additional ongoing retreat for the healing of parents who lost their children during the October 7 attack. The Secret Forest now hosts survivors of the Nova festival every Sunday through Thursday and bereaved parents every Thursday through Sunday. 

Now, the program for bereaved parents needs funding. My sacred jewelry line, The Winged Ones, is donating a portion of the proceeds from every sale towards the Secret Forest’s mission.

As an Israeli-American, the recent tragedies in my homeland have laid heavily on my heart. Those who know my story know that I spent many years married to an Arab man, with whom I continue to foster a meaningful friendship based on mutual respect and compassion. That is why I devote my message to one of harmony rather than alienation.

It was a privilege to be able to sit down with Wilson and Sharabi-Ayal for an interview to help shed light on this incredible initiative.


“For the first time, once we were there and were able to relax, I felt I could finally breathe, that I was above the turmoil,” says Sharabi-Ayal. 

The Path to Healing 

For most survivors, the healing process may take months or even years. However, what the Secret Forest provides is the ability to kickstart that process and work through the trauma in the present, before it cements into negative habits or practices.

Survivors participate in a group healing session in the mineral pool. Photo: Nir Davidzon

Furthermore, the goal is to provide a space where survivors feel seen and heard outside of the chaos of an active warzone. Though the goal is to help all 1,400 waiting and willing participants, the goal is to share the experience with as many people as possible, so that they may return to their homeland with an elevated sense of peace, an ability to work through the difficult memories and emotions that otherwise plagued them, and achieve newfound perspective surrounding the events of the fateful day the attack occurred.

“The main thing this place gave us, besides that moment of serenity, are the tools to return to ourselves,” Sharabi-Ayal expressed. “There are still ups and downs, there are rough days, and then days when everything is okay. The main thing I learned is that it’s okay to be okay.” 

To support this life-saving initiative, The Winged Ones is donating 5% of the proceeds from all sacred jewelry sales. Use code HEALINGWINGS for a 20% discount.

You can also donate directly here: https://charidy.com/recovering.

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