June Director's Note
This month I would like to devote my note, to giving you a short update on all that is happening at JACC. JACC has made amazing strides in the last year, becoming more professional and improving all our services to the community.
As the asylum seeking community in Israel has been undergoing dreadful turbulence, JACC has managed to continue being a stabilizing force in Jerusalem, offering the community a ‘safe place’, where they can come to find help and also learn languages, meet friends and relax.
JACC was founded in July 2014 in order to meet the needs of members of the local African asylum seeking community in Jerusalem. The community-based organization was founded by a group of African asylum seekers and Israelis. It incorporated volunteer-based programs which were running in the city since 2007, as a humane response to the asylum seekers' situation in Israel, and the feeling that it was impossible to stand by- while people fleeing genocide were arriving at the city with no support or rights.
It is estimated that about 3,000 African asylum seekers from Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia reside in Jerusalem today. In addition to the general challenges facing asylum seekers in Israel, those in Jerusalem face a unique set of issues as the vast majority of Israel’s relevant aid and assistance centers operate in Tel Aviv.
JACC is the only NGO in Jerusalem offering holistic support to asylum seekers. Furthermore, only JACC has the physical space, which serves as a ‘warm home’ a space to relax and feel secure, for the community. JACC provides a very wide range of services to meet the diverse and crucial needs of this marginalized community, we see ourselves as a ‘one-stop-shop’, addressing their myriad of needs and challenges.
We are a volunteer-based organization, operating with about 170 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, including students doing their internship; social work students, students from the legal faculty, the psychology department and the medical faculty of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Updates from JACC:
In our effort to become more professional we have hired several additional professionals to ensure sustainability and excellence of service we offer the community. Todays JACC’s staff include; in half- time positions -a resource developer, a volunteer coordinator, a children and youth coordinator, a rights advocacy coordinator, the learning center coordinator. a social worker in a three-quarter position and a director in a full-time position.
As the need to submit RSD (Refugee Status Determination) forms has increased, JACC has recruited, with the help of Steve Israel and Kol HaNeshama, many more volunteers, to answer the need.
Together with The Association of Advancement of Education, The Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Foundation, we have opened a Learning Center, working three days a week with 15 children from 3rd to 5th grade. The children receive a warm meal, help with homework and school assignments and individual tutoring from a special-ed. Teacher
We have started a small emergency fund for humanitarian assistance
We have expanding the summer program to include other holidays, and did a five-day camp at Hanukkah
JACC, together with the social services of the Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Foundation is running a movement program for the children in the pre-school at St Vincent church, where many of the young children and babies of the community attend. In addition, we are running a series of workshops for the parents, helping them with the transition to public schooling and their parenting skills.
JACC is preparing a “facelift” for our web-site and hopefully by mid-July it will be up and running.
In addition, of course, JACC continues to run all its other programs; English and Hebrew classes, computer classes, mentoring program, playgroup, psychosocial and advocacy rights programs.
With our small staff and amazing volunteers, we hope to continue working with this wonderful community, helping it build resilience and stamina to deal with all it’s continuing hardships.
We are indebted to all our loyal followers and supporters and look forward to your continued support.