In line with Telfed’s ‘On the Move’ vision, the organization is investing in a wide range of projects and programmes that impact on Israeli society and its Southern African community. The underlying philosophy of the new direction is to integrate Southern African Olim into Israeli society through volunteering, while at the same time improving the quality of life of Israel’s citizens.
PRAS (Student Bursaries)
Southern African Olim have traditionally looked after their own community, as has been exemplified by our self-help fund, Keren Telfed, which over the last 30 years, has assisted thousands of new Olim and families in times of crisis. The Helping Hand project provides critical support mainly to the elderly, single parents and families with children with special needs.
Unfortunately, the need for assistance keeps growing. Longer life expectancies, greater financial need, the devaluation of the Rand, health care costs, and isolation from family members (some of whom have remained in Southern Africa or dispersed internationally) have exacerbated the problem. Southern African families are sometimes faced with unemployment, unable to find a position that matches their experience and financial needs. There are also cases of illness, both physical and mental, or loss of a breadwinner. Keren Telfed currently provides assistance to 160 families each month.
Presently, we can provide only nominal support and have cases of individuals who require assistance over the long term – or even for the rest of their lives - because they have chronic health problems and are unemployable. The pension provided by the government (National Insurance Institute) is far below the minimal wage. The basic financial assistance we are able to provide helps to relieve the poverty, stress and worry experienced by those living on a low income. Telfed is vital for their survival.
Cresting the wave of sudden emergencies, SURF comes to the rescue. Existing funds do not always allow for a speedy and adequate response to families with urgent needs for ‘one-time’ assistance. To facilitate this, a new fund to provide immediate relief to families in times of crisis, has been inaugurated by the family of Hertzel Katz, founder of Keren Telfed. This fund provides once-off financial assistance governed by the nature and scope of the urgent need. Approximately 10-15 families approach Keren Telfed each year for such support. For more info, click here
We can all remember our first impressions when we arrived in Israel filled with idealism and hope but also a certain understandable measure of trepidation. With Aliyah, one has to face a different culture and language. Telfed, in addition to meeting each and every Oleh at the airport, and providing comprehensive Klitah and job counseling, provides welcome baskets to each Oleh. The ‘Welcoming New Olim' Project provides welcoming baskets prepared individually for the needs of each Oleh be they families, singles or lone soldiers.
Do you know that every year there are between 35-50 ‘lone soldiers’ from Southern Africa volunteering in the Israeli army at any given time? For many of these idealistic young men and women this is the first step of their Aliyah.
Telfed keeps a protective eye on Southern African ‘lone soldiers’ and where possible matches them up with families in Israel to host and provide them with a “home from home”. Our Klitah counselor works cooperatively with the army and other social agencies concerned with the welfare of soldiers, in order to smooth their passage throughout their service. One of Telfed’s new projects is to provide each lone soldier with a “Basket of Appreciation” before the high holidays, packed with shopping vouchers and the little luxuries that bring them some comfort and well-being. In this way Telfed lets them know how much their contribution is valued. No “lone soldier” should feel alone in Israel!
Apart from the abovementioned projects, Telfed is working to encourage regional chapters to develop their own projects to benefit not only Southern Africans, but the wider community.
TECI – Telfed Ethiopian Community Initiative
Some regional committee efforts assist the Ethiopian community by teaching English and helping to run after school study centers, in collaboration with other non-profit organizations. A new national initiative is to support Amutat Gidon for Ethiopian Jews in Hadera, (which has been in existence for the past 20 years), in running four after-school study centers located in populated low-income neighbourhoods.
These centres provide extra lessons and homework supervision in Hebrew, English, maths, computers and art. Currently up to 200 elementary school children of Ethiopian families attend one of four centres, 5 days a week. At the end of each day, each participant receives a hot meal before going home. MAKSAM Centres play an important role in filling the gap left by parents who are unable to provide the intellectual support and guidance which the children need.
The PRAS Student Mentoring Programme represents a unique approach to offering community service coupled with a substantial bursary to students who would like to volunteer and assist Olim with their absorption.The Telfed PRAS student bursaries are awarded to those students who can commit to doing 94 hours of community service per academic year. The Hebrew word “PRAS” means a prize and the PRAS Programme is all about teaching students the ethics of give and take and how giving to the community is a prize in itself.
PRAS students mainly volunteer within the Olim community helping them to adapt and integrate into life in Israel. Some students mentor and assist adult Olim, encouraging them to refine and enhance their Hebrew-language skills and to adjust to Israeli culture, which helps make their Klita process smoother. Other students act as a “big brother/sister” to Oleh children, helping them with homework, exams and in their social activities. Other students assist the elderly or people with special needs either at their homes or in institutions. This takes place all over Israel.
For Information about registration for PRAS please click HERE