YEDID: The Association for Community Empowerment

Through a national network of Citizen Rights Centers, YEDID empowers low-income Israelis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds to access their rights, break the cycle of poverty, and achieve self-sufficiency. YEDID ("friend" in Hebrew) was founded in 1997 with the mission to promote social and economic justice in Israel. To date, YEDID has given direct assistance to over 290,000 Israelis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. In addition, we have run hundreds of community empowerment programmes, and have lobbied successfully for public policy change on social issues such as housing, labour, healthcare, and social security. Our approach to creating social change operates on ...
Jul 28, 2014

Progress Report on Vocational Training Course

In January 2013, the second cohort of students of the Megemeria School began their training at the YVEL Design Center, situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem. YVEL's location was symbolically fitting for this undertaking: the students, Ethiopian immigrants living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, felt that they were society's outcasts. Prior to their being accepted to Megemeria, the majority of the students had worked minimum-wage jobs, such as cleaning or mall security, which forced them to work long hours in order to be able to support their families. A complex set of obstacles, such as the students' lack of Hebrew skills, and the vast destabilizing cultural differences between Ethiopia and Israel, stood between them and a successful integration into Israel's workforce and society.

However, after just a few months into Megemeria – which means "Beginning" in Amharic – the students underwent a profound transformation. As they acquired the jewelry making skills that would enable them to have a meaningful and viable profession, the students' self-confidence increased, and their children began to take pride in their parents’ work. The students' sense of belonging to Israeli society began to grow, thanks to the financial literacy courses and classes on Israeli culture, history, and geography that YEDID provided throughout the program.

The Megemeria School would not be possible without the generosity of donors like you – every dollar you donated helped the 22 students of the second cohort gain the skills, confidence, and knowledge that they needed to become self-sufficient workers, who take pride in their creative work and support their families with dignity. The second cohort of students graduated in March, and we are excited to share with you that 20 of the 22 students passed the written and practical exam of the Ministry of Economy accreditation course in jewelry making! The remaining two students are scheduled to retake the exam in the near future, and 17 graduates are now employed by YVEL or Megemeria, along with the graduates of the first cohort. Megemeria graduates come from Jerusalem and the greater Jerusalem area, including Beit Shemesh. Despite the rockets that have recently fallen in these regions, our graduates have proven their dedication to their craft and their vision by showing up for work without fail.

Megemeria jewelry sales continue to soar! The jewelry collections of both cohorts have attracted national and international interest: the Home Shopping Network has purchased 4,000 pieces of the Megemeria collection, the Israeli Home Shopping Network has also begun purchasing pieces to sell, and we are in the process of selling additional pieces to the British Home Shopping Network. Additionally, we will be setting up pop-up mobile stores in the prestigious Arena Mall in Herzelia Pituach and the Gan Ha'ir Mall in Tel Aviv over the summer. With each new piece of jewelry sold, Megemeria serves as an ambassador of the Ethiopian-Israeli community, sending a clear message: when given the opportunity, this community is capable of great things.

YEDID is continuing to advance this growing social business beyond the jewelry-making activities. We're looking into developing the school and social enterprise into a community-based tourism to house a craft shop, a café, and a space for Ethiopian artisans to demonstrate traditional crafts and skill: weaving, potter, woodcarvings, and cotton spinning. We're excited to create a place to share the Ethiopian Israel story with visitors from home and abroad while generative revenue to ensure the continuity and sustainability of Megemeria.

On behalf of YEDID's staff and the students and graduates from Megemeria, I thank our supporters for their partnership. Without help like yours, 44 talented individuals would not have had the chance to embark on the path to a brighter future. Thank you so much!

Apr 30, 2014

Progress Report on YEDID's Mobile Center

Elena arrived at our Mobile Citizen Rights and Health Center when it was stationed in Haifa. She came from a difficult background; though she was only 24, she was already divorced and a mother of a five-year-old daughter. In the not-so-distant past she had undergone physical abuse, which left her with chronic health problems. Her family had cut ties with her, and, as Elena told the center’s volunteer, she was on the brink of collapse.

Elena wanted to give herself and her daughter a clean start. She had come to our Mobile Center from Kiryat Shmona, Israel's northernmost city, hoping that we could help her get public housing. In the past, she had applied for eligibility for public housing, but had been denied due to the fact only families with three or more children who have been living on welfare benefits for a 24 month period are eligible for public housing. “I’m willing to move anywhere in Israel to get public housing,” she said, “I really need this to help me get back on my feet.” The staff at our Mobile Center prepared the necessary paperwork, and sent it to the public housing office near Haifa in Kiryat Bialik.

The request was denied, for the same reason as Elena’s previous request, on the grounds of ineligibility. Nevertheless, our staff persevered, and went in person to the housing offices to reason with the officials there. After two months of negotiations, Elena was notified that she was being granted a two-room apartment in a public housing complex near Haifa. “I’m so grateful to YEDID for all of their help,” Elena writes. “Finally, I can start getting my life back on track.”

The goal of YEDID's Mobile Citizen Rights and Health Center is to empower and strengthen residents like Elena of Israel's socioeconomic and geographic peripheries in the areas of health and social rights. The Center's objectives are to help clients navigate the national health system; to provide preventative medical services; and to supply information about legal rights and social benefits in the area of health care and other areas (such as housing and National Insurance, to name just two).

From the beginning of November 2013 through the beginning of February 2014, the Mobile Center provided 120 clients with rights counseling. The most prevalent subjects for which people turned to the center for non-health related issues during this period were issues concerning public housing and mortgages (32%), matters related to debt and repossessions (26%), and labor law problems (15%). Clients served included immigrants and veteran Israelis, Arabs and Jews.

The Mobile Center's plans for the coming months are to continue running Health Days, to recruit more volunteers with specific skills such as fluency in Arabic and Russian, and professional experience in relevant fields. Thanks to a generous donation, we will be able to increase the Mobile Center's operation from three to six times a week in the near future! An increase in days will allow us to access and assist more clients in Israel's underserved peripheries.

On behalf of YEDID's staff, volunteers, and clients, I thank our supporters for their partnership. The immediate and essential assistance that the center provides to individuals across the country could never happen without your help. Thank you so much!

Apr 28, 2014

Progress Report on Vocational Training Course

The second cohort graduates!
The second cohort graduates!

In January 2013, the second cohort of students of the Megemeria School began their training at the YVEL Design Center, situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem. YVEL's location was symbolically fitting for this undertaking: the students, Ethiopian immigrants living in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, felt that they were society's outcasts. Prior to their being accepted to Megemeria, the majority of the students had worked minimum-wage jobs, such as cleaning or mall security, which forced them to work long hours in order to be able to support their families. A complex set of obstacles, such as the students' lack of Hebrew skills, and the vast destabilizing cultural differences between Ethiopia and Israel, stood between them and a successful integration into Israel's workforce and society.

However, after just a few months into Megemeria – which means "Beginning" in Amharic – the students underwent a profound transformation. As they acquired the jewelry making skills that would enable them to have a meaningful and viable profession, the students' self-confidence increased, and their children began to take pride in their parents’ work. The students' sense of belonging to Israeli society began to grow, thanks to the financial literacy courses and classes on Israeli culture, history, and geography that YEDID provided throughout the program.

The Megemeria School would not be possible without the generosity of donors like you – every dollar you donated helped the 22 students of the second cohort gain the skills, confidence, and knowledge that they needed to become self-sufficient workers, who take pride in their creative work and support their families with dignity. The second cohort of students graduated in March, and we are excited to share with you that 20 of the 22 students passed the written and practical exam of the Ministry of Economy accreditation course in jewelry making! The remaining two students are scheduled to retake the exam in the near future, and 17 graduates are now employed by YVEL or Megemeria, along with the graduates of the first cohort.

Megemeria jewelry sales continue to soar! The jewelry collections of both cohorts have attracted national and international interest: in the coming months, the Home Shopping Network will feature four pieces of the Megemeria collection, and Israel’s prestigious Ahava company has purchased $35,000 of Megemeria jewelry to sell! Additional pieces of the collection are being sold at the Padani Jewelry Company in Jerusalem’s upscale outdoor Mamilla Mall. With each new piece of jewelry sold, Megemeria serves as an ambassador of the Ethiopian-Israeli community, sending a clear message: when given the opportunity, this community is capable of great things.

One of the second cohort’s students, Joseph, made Aliyah in 1998. From the moment he arrived in Israel, Joseph was determined to make a decent living for himself and his family. “I didn’t want charity,” Joseph says, thinking back on those first few weeks in Israel, “I wanted to work. I wanted to be a part of Israeli society.” But there were several crucial factors standing between Joseph and his hope for a viable profession and societal inclusion. “In Ethiopia, I was a farmer. In Israel, there aren’t many job openings for farmers. With my non-existent Hebrew, I simply wasn’t a candidate for higher-paying jobs.” Undeterred, Joseph started working a minimum-wage job as a cleaner, while going to Ulpan (Hebrew language school) at night to improve his Hebrew and his prospects. “I kept dreaming of learning a trade, of having a job I could be proud of. But I never got the chance to try.” Joseph worked as a cleaner for 5 years, and as a security guard (another minimum-wage job) for another nine years. “I still held on to my dream,” he remembers bitterly, but I felt like it would never be fulfilled. I was stuck.”

One day, Joseph heard about the Megemeria School from a friend. After checking his suitability he was accepted into the program, and he recently graduated with the second group of cohorts. “I’m so grateful to YEDID and YVEL for giving me this wonderful opportunity,” Joseph says smiling. “It’s not just that you’ve helped me fulfill my dream of learning a trade – you’ve also helped me and my family become more independent and empowered. If in the past I barely saw my children because of the extremely long hours I worked, today I’m much more involved in their lives. I study for tests with them, I help them with their homework, and I get to be a part of their social lives. You’ve enabled me to be a better parent, and for this I am so grateful.”

Joseph and the rest of the students in second cohort have embarked on an exciting new chapter of “Megemeria,” an in-work program of work-related skills training to strengthen their English and Hebrew skills, while developing the critical business skills they need to develop and grow Megemeria as a social business that will help them advance in family-supporting careers. YEDID will continue to provide social, economic, and legal support for all of the program’s graduates, to ensure a positive transition of the graduates into the workforce. Through individual rights counseling, family budget planning courses, and confidence-boosting empowerment courses, YEDID will continue to help this extraordinary group of people grow personally and professionally. 

On behalf of YEDID's staff and the students and graduates from Megemeria, I thank our supporters for their partnership. Without help like yours, 44 talented individuals would not have had the chance to embark on the path to a brighter future. Thank you so much!

donate now:

An anonymous donor is matching all new monthly recurring donations. Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
  • $10
    give
  • $18
    give
  • $25
    give
  • $60
    give
  • $150
    give
  • $500
    give
  • $1,000
    give
  • $3,000
    give
  • $10
    each month
    give
  • $18
    each month
    give
  • $25
    each month
    give
  • $60
    each month
    give
  • $150
    each month
    give
  • $500
    each month
    give
  • $1,000
    each month
    give
  • $3,000
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?