Amit joined JACC three years ago as one of the first members of the tutoring program.
Every week, he goes after his class to an asylum-seeking family to spend a couple of hours with Kidane (a substitute name is used to preserve confidentiality). The family fled Eritrea a few years ago and sought shelter in Israel. Today, the whole family shares one tiny room in Jerusalem. Both parents work long hours and the father is juggling two jobs to provide for his family. Kidane often takes care of his siblings while the parents are working: he cooks for them and looks after them. He doesn’t have a lot of time for himself, so Amit tries to offer him a chance to play and relax. Kidane faces many issues in his everyday life and Amit wants him to know that he deserves dignity and equality nonetheless.
Amit and Kidane have developed a very strong bond. However, it hasn’t always been like that: in the beginning, Amit had trouble gaining the trust of Kidane, who did not know him and was skeptical of his intentions. At the monthly meetings for JACC mentors, Amit discussed his situation, how to improve it and how to respond to challenges he and other mentors face with the children.
After sharing his experience and difficulties with the group, other mentors gave him advice on how to proceed. Over time, Kidane started to trust Amit and now, Kidane knows that he can come to Amit if he faces problems or needs advice. This trust and bond they created is key for Amit, he said, because he feels that asylum-seekers live a tough life and can be isolated from the rest of the society they live in.
Amit and Kidane both know Kidane will face many challenges when he turns 18: Kidane will probably not be granted refugee status (less than 1% of asylum-seekers have been granted with the refugee status so far), higher education will be difficult to obtain, and, on top of that, he might be detained in the Negev desert.
Despite these challenges, Amit believes everyone deserves to dream. He asked Kidane what he wanted to be when he was older. First, Kidane avoided the question, then he would answer only with jobs he thought he could do. Over time, Kidane got more confident and once he told Amit that he wanted to be the Prime Minister!
Now, the time has come for them to say good-bye to each other. Amit just finished his studies and will move to Tel Aviv. They will not see each other as frequently. When asked what this experience has brought him, Amit paused for a moment and then said: “joy.”
This month, JACC is raising money so that JACC can continue to provide asylum-seeking children with meaningful and educational programming, including mentoring and tutoring, that will help them grow and mature. As of now, 65% of the asylum-seeking community’s children in Jerusalem do not receive services from JACC because of limited resources.
Help us expand our children’s programming by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.