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מרכז לקהילה האפריקאית בירושלים

JACC’s Social Aid Team: Lending an ear to lend a hand

Leaving our country and starting a new experience in a different one is always challenging. Even for the most determined and enthusiastic person, difficulties might arise at any time when facing the obstacles posed by a different language, customs we are not used to or unfamiliar bureaucratic procedures.

All of this can be tough to go through, and of course it might negatively affect our perception of the new environment surrounding us. But even worse, it can lead us to put into question our own skills, to make us feel fragile and insecure even vis-à-vis the smallest challenge.

Now try and imagine the added challenges for someone who was forced to flee to and start a new life in a different country, undertaking a risky journey after having suffered from discrimination, persecution and violence, only to arrive in a country that is not welcoming and makes life difficult and insecure.

The Jerusalem African Community Center is well aware of the psychological and emotional burden suffered by refugees, and gives special attention to members of the community in need of particular care under the humanitarian, psychological and social sphere. JACC’s Social Aid Team works to satisfy these needs thanks to a team of skilled professionals coordinated by Adi, JACC’s new Psycho-Social Support Coordinator.

Before undertaking this position, Adi had already volunteered in several humanitarian organisations. She provided assistance to asylum seekers in Serbia, at the border with Macedonia, where she helped to assist refugees fleeing from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and attempting to reach Europe via the Balkan Route. That experience left her interest in the situation of refugees, and of course it was a great opportunity for her to improve her skills as a social worker in this field.

The activities Adi coordinates within the framework of the Social Aid Team are carried out by both university interns and volunteers. Students from the school of social work at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem intern with JACC and support members of the community by helping them to cope with their daily lives as many of them are suffering from trauma resulting from their experiences as refugees and asylum seekers. First-year students usually take care of children, whilst second and third-year students mainly work with adults.

Ari is enthusiastic about her chance to work with JACC, where she has found an inspiring environment. Here, she is learning more and more about different and new cultures, stories and people, all of whom stimulate her with new, fresh ideas and positive feelings.

As she told us, “I love being here and being helpful to people in need. I still have much to learn and there’s a lot to do as well, but I’m not scared by that. Rather, it motivates me to do my best.”

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