BINA’s “Journey to Ethiopia” (JTE) is a leadership development and community empowerment program that takes place in the underserved Sharet neighborhood in Lod, part of Israel’s socio economic periphery. Through this year long program, 8-10 Ethiopian student-volunteers from Lod will work with at-risk youth in Lod, developing meaningful relationships and acting as positive role models and mentors. At the end of the year, the volunteers will participate in a trip to Ethiopia – a journey of self-discovery and personal identity that will help them better understand and connect more deeply to their Ethiopian heritage.
“Journey to Ethiopia” aims to provide support for youth at-risk from underprivileged communities and offer them a path towards a brighter future. These teens are brimming with potential that is currently unrealized due to circumstance, background and a dearth of opportunities available to them in their communities. And, unfortunately, due to a lack of available resources many of Lod’s teenagers find themselves on the street without guidance or positive role models. At BINA, we believe that investing in today’s youth is the key to creating lasting social change.
Many youth-at-risk in Lod spend their evenings on the city’s streets. The young-adult program volunteers (all aged 18+ from Lod) will staff a mobile activity unit – a bus that will drive around, stopping in different areas where the teens ‘hang out’ in the streets between 8pm and midnight, twice a week, every week for a year. Using the bus as a base, they will interact with the teenagers through various sports, games and other activities. The student volunteers (themselves from underserved neighborhoods in Lod) really understand the obstacles faced by the teenagers of Sharet neighborhood. This shared identity and empathy between the mentors and mentees will help build trust and friendships, establishing a lasting support system that will re-enforce positive goals for the teenagers of Lod. By offering them mentors from within their own neighborhood, JTE provides the youth of Sharet positive role models who are able to offer guidance and help them on the path towards success – at school, in their home lives and in their community.
Many young Ethiopian-Israelis, face a conflict of identity, – they have one foot in Israeli culture and one in their family’s Ethiopian traditions. The program culminates in a trip to Ethiopia which, for many of the students, will be their first visit and will offer important moments of reflection, self-exploration and connection with their roots. The program will ultimately build a new cadre of young adult Ethiopian-Israeli leaders, informed and confident in their Ethiopian-Israeli identity, empowered through their experiences volunteering and through the trip to effect meaningful change in the lives of others and in their community.
Get involved in “Journey to Ethiopia” by sponsoring a student- volunteer! It costs $7000 to send one volunteer to Ethiopia for a week (including flights, educational supervision, security and general expenses while in Ethiopia). Your support enables a volunteer to participate and ultimately helps all of those in Lod – the volunteers as well as the youth – who will be impacted by “Journey To Ethiopia”. For more information and to find out how you can sponsor a student – volunteer contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The neighborhoods in which BINA operates are among the most socio-economically challenged areas in Israel; severely impoverished and underserved. “Journey To Ethiopia” will focus on the neighborhood of Sharet, near Lod’s city-center. Once one of the most desirable neighborhoods of Lod, over time it’s popularity and influence has diminished. The population of Sharet is underserved, yet it is ripe with potential, and through mentorship and guidance both the beneficiaries and volunteers of “Journey to Ethiopia” have the power to transform into profound community leaders.
JTE is a joint program run in partnership between BINA, Lod – City without Violence, JDC Better Together Plus and the Youth Center in Lod.