When immigrants arrived from Ethiopia to Israel over the past two decades, many did not know what to expect. The differences in culture, language and customs led to a difficult path for many immigrants, changing their tears of joy at arriving 'home' to tears of frustration and misunderstanding.
The IsraCorps Action Center, co-founded by IVN and the Rashi Foundation, developed a special program within the National Service Framework to work together with girls of Ethiopian origin to improve their grades and complete their high school studies (implemented by the Tafnit program), while volunteering in their community. This combination of learning and social action provides them with the tools they need to succeed in Israeli society; a second chance. Girls graduate the program with improved self-confidence, a clearer picture of their future, social awareness and leadership skills.
Bat-El, who immigrated at the age of 9, is now entering her second year in the IsraCorps program in the development town of Kiryat Gat and she describes it as a life-changing experience: "The IsraCorps program is very intense... the combination of volunteer work, studies and training leaves me very little free time.. However, I am completing my studies in order to improve my future. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me."
Yubi Tsuma, now an IsraCorps Coordinator of the academic preparatory program for girls of Ethiopian origin and of the IsraCorps adult leadership group in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Rehovot, was born in Ethiopia, and is currently a resident of Gedera. Yubi is Bat-El's instructor and has great belief in the IsraCorps program and its graduates: "After 2 years of instruction in this program, I envision these girls as agents that will transform the face of Ethiopian society, as they are trained to get involved in their surroundings. I truly believe that these empowered girls will be able to influence their environment including siblings, friends and family."
Sharon Ben-Shachar, Director of Leumi Tomorrow- the Centennial Fund for Endowing Israel's Future Generations:
"In addition to financial activity, Bank Leumi actively partners with initiatives for the community with the belief that we have a social and moral duty to advance the society we operate within....
Leumi Tomorrow- the Centennial Fund for Endowing Israel's Future Generations- invests in educational projects for youngsters in order to encourage them to complete their matriculation exams, serve significant roles in the army and eventually acquire a college education. Leumi Tomorrow operates within partnership models and aims to empower and expand the activities of the social organizations we support such as IVN. The investments are usually significant and multi-year, enabling stability and long-term planning of the initiative's activity.
Due to this outlook, Leumi Tomorrow has decided to allocate budgets for specific projects for Ethiopian immigrants who experience difficulties in their integration into Israeli society. Our board has decided to focus on strengthening the scholastic achievements of these youngsters and empowering them in light of cultural and technological gaps."
This is the 4th year that IsraCorps is operating the prep program for girls of Ethiopian origin. After a successful pilot in 2005-6, all girls completed matriculation exams and 10 of them continued the program for a second year. IsraCorps is currently operating 5 groups (80 youth) in Be'er Sheva, Kiryat Gat, Tel-Aviv and Tiberias.
If you would like to hear about more funding opportunities related to this or other IVN social leadership programs, please contact Atara Dzikowski, Director of Development & Marketing at email@example.com