11/13/2005

Kiryat Malachi Here We Come

In the next week, we will be moving to new cities. OTZMA is broken into 3 different tracks, Be’er Sheva was the first, with a group of 30 that focused on getting us to learn Hebrew, integrated with the community and living in Israel. For the second track we are split into smaller groups and move to remote towns in the periphery of Israel to focus more on volunteering. The periphery pretty much includes everywhere that is not Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and five other people and myself are moving to a town called Kiryat Malachi

Last week we got a chance to visit and check out some of the things we would be doing. Mostly the work involves working with students in school and after school activities. I will probably volunteer in an Elementary School in the morning and with at-risk children in the afternoon. We are there to help them with their English and be supportive older (but still cool) role models continued...

The population of Kiryat Malachi is about the size of Eugene and has around 40% Ethiopian immigrants. This has had a huge impact on the community of the town. We were told about 20 years ago or so things were really looking up there. Jobs were plentiful, the community center was a booming place, the youth were all involved in a huge student government project, and growth and progress was all about. Then the Israel government brought the Ethiopian immigrants to Kiryat Malachi, which has the highest population of Ethiopians than any other Israeli city. The problem with this is that the government has not extended the same rights they give to other immigrants to the Ethiopians. Normally when one makes Alyiah, they are given money to start up, a place to live, classes in Hebrew, and other benefits. None of this was done for the Ethiopians. So thousands have just been dropped off in towns like Kiryat Malachi, almost all not knowing how to read or write in any language and inside of the support given to other immigrants, if they are of the age of 3rd grade, they are placed in 3rd grade whether they are able to function there or not.

As you can imagine, this has completely crushed the school structure and community in Kiryat Malachi. Jobs are gone, and most people who lived there have moved away. There is no one our age in the town. Just families and older people. One thing I found amazing was the attitude of the people in Kiryat Malachi, Everyone was so positive and upbeat and they were living there because they wanted to help change and fix up the town. So I am excited about joining and doing what I can as well.

Also, the apartment we are staying in is so sweet. It is like a house. I have never seen an apartment so big in my life. It has a washer and dryer in it; which I have never had since I left home, a DVD player, bathtub, full kitchen and oven, toaster & microwave…yes!, and this huge dining room and living room so we can have people over to visit. Yeah! Living in style here I come!

Tonight I am traveling to Tel Aviv to see Bill Clinton, yes you read that right – Clinton! He’s speaking at the memorial for Yatzhak Rabin, so I’ll write all about that soon!

1 Comments:

Blogger Steven R. Neuman said...

I have totally been there.

8:47 AM  

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