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מרכז לקהילה האפריקאית בירושלים

Room in Israel for All: A Mentor's Experience

Ehud was studying psychology at the Hebrew University when he came across an advertisement about volunteering at JACC. He decided to apply and soon found himself taking care of a 6-year-old boy, Aaron (a substitute name is used to preserve confidentiality). Aaron's parents are from Eritrea, but he was born outside of the country while en route to Israel. He has been living in Israel ever since.

Every week, Ehud goes to Aaron's house to help him with homework, learning Hebrew and any issues he is facing at school. Sometimes, the help Ehud can provide is aiding Aaron’s family with navigating life in Israel. Ehud remembers that Aaron used to take a city bus every day to get to school. For a while, his parents didn’t know how to get a transportation card and Aaron was afraid of being thrown out of the bus. With Ehud’s assistance, Aaron’s family was able to learn how the city buses operate and how to get their son a transportation card from the municipality.

Ehud said the support he can provide Aaron’s family is little trouble for him but can improve their lives significantly. He has been a volunteer for almost three years at JACC and has witnessed the difficulties the community of asylum-seekers face: working long hours for low salaries, discrimination and difficulty navigating the Israeli system. By keeping people at the center of every equation it tries to solve, JACC is trying to bring dignity to the lives of the community. That's what Ehud said he likes about JACC.

Ehud’s interactions with Aaron and his family also helped Ehud to put things into a different perspective. Aaron, his parents and his two other siblings live in a tiny one-room apartment. One day, Aaron showed Ehud that they had a new guest: Aaron's parents were hosting another asylum-seeker who was just released from a detention center for refugees and had nowhere to stay. For three months, the four of them all managed to fit in this little room. Seeing this, Ehud wondered: if they still have room in their lives for solidarity, could Israel find it in its society too?

This month, JACC is raising money so that volunteer tutors can continue to provide support for more children like Aaron. 65% of the asylum-seeking community’s children in Jerusalem do not receive services from JACC because of limited resources. Help us expand today. Please donate and spread the word via email and Facebook.

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