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מרכז לקהילה האפריקאית בירושלים

Tigrinya Classes: Breaking Down the Communication Barrier

Mulue Agash noticed what he saw as a big problem in his community. “The kids speak Hebrew—they can’t speak Tigrinya,” he said. “And the mothers speak Tigrinya, not Hebrew.”

When Mulue noticed this, he decided to do something about it. As a refugee himself from Eritrea who has lived in Israel for almost 10 years, he decided to begin offering Tigrinya classes to the children of Jerusalem’s asylum-seekers. On Fridays and Saturdays during the school year, students gather at JACC to formally learn the language that their parents speak.

“They improve their language,” Mulue said. With the help of his classes, “they can write and they can read.”

Beyond teaching children better language skills, Mulue said that JACC helps the asylum-seeking community feel a sense of solidarity and togetherness. In organizing the children’s classes, parents work together to find teachers, purchase workbooks and design the curriculum. This community center, by bringing families together, encourages the population.

“It’s a program for the people,” he said.

Organizing these classes, however, is not always easy. To support their families, most of the parents work during the week and therefore have difficulty offering classes on weekdays or even teaching on weekends.

“If I teach them every time, how can I support my life?” said Mulue.

Furthermore, while the Tigrinya program currently has about 25 children enrolled, there are many more in the community who would like to take classes. Mulue said that he currently has 50 students registered for this coming year. With children arriving in class and progressing at different levels, he is hoping to offer different course levels to better accommodate different students’ needs.

“We’ll see, there are a lot of kids,” he said.

As Mulue tries to expand the Tigrinya program to accommodate more students, JACC needs all the financial support it can get to afford new teachers and textbooks and to design new curricula.

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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