JACC would not exist without its team of volunteers.
And our team of volunteers wouldn't exists without the leadership of our volunteer coordinator, Gal Malamud-Regev.
You’ve been working with refugees for a while. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved in the field?
My work with refugees started at a refugee camp in Kakuma Kenya, where I worked as the director of the psychosocial project for IsraAid organization. When the project ended, I realized that didn't need to go to Africa to work with refugees. The asylum-seeker community in Israel needs aid no less (and sometimes even more) than the communities in Africa.
What drew you to JACC?
I came to the JACC by accident, through an ad in the Shatil website. I confess and admit that I didn't know the foundation before, but today I'm thrilled to be part of the family.
Is there any exciting news about new or existing programs at JACC that you’d like to share?
Wow! There's so much going on! The year started in full force.
In addition to the existing projects such as Hebrew, English and computer classes which are full with students, the lovely educational playroom and the mentoring program, there are many volunteers who started training for the Rights Utilization Team and the Psychosocial project, a tax refund project opened, and we began a kids' English class on Thursdays.
We are working hard on recruiting workers and volunteers for the new learning center which will open in January and we are very excited from the annual event at Abraham Hostel this month.
We've started to establish a team for raising and distributing donations, art therapy… To tell you the truth, could go on and forever.
The most exciting thing is that all of these projects are designed and developed by our volunteers who do everything with love, investment and volunteerism! It's really unimaginable!
Please tell us about some of the challenges that our community members are facing. From your point of view, what are their most urgent needs?
The past week has been full of bad and difficult news for the community. It seems that the State of Israel continues its harsh and cruel policy toward asylum seekers.
The lack of certainty is the hardest of all, for us as a non-profit organization and especially for the community.
Apart from the tough daily coping, the language gaps, the economic situation and the living conditions, we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
It is a terrible feeling.
What goals do you have for the volunteers and for JACC in general? Do you have any wishes for the New Year?
My greatest wish is that in a few years time we will not be needed because the basic services we provide will be provided by the state.
I hope that we continue to provide professional services with the same love we give today as we continue to grow and develop.
I would be happy if we continued to improve our Rights Utilization services and recruit more professionals, continue to develop and professionalize our language lessons, find a mentor for each child and work to strengthen ties between the community of the asylum seekers and the Jerusalem neighbors.
I hope that by the time our country comes to its senses and understands the crime it is committing, we will be able to raise enough funds to develop our amazing programs and perhaps also invest in changing policy and changing public opinion.
I pray that tomorrow we will wake up to good news, that someone up there will understand that the biggest thing we can do as a country is to integrate Israel’s asylum seekers into our community and treat them as equals.
Our community truly thanks Gal for her hard work, her enthusiasm, and all she does!