Vocational Training Course for Ethiopian Israelis

by YEDID: The Association for Community Empowerment

Now, Ayu Can do Anything! 

Ayu made Aliyah from Ethiopia 8 years ago. She spent two years at an absorption center in Mevaseret; it was during this time that she gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl. After spending several months with her newborn, Ayu found a job as a cleaner, and cleaned houses for half a year. However, Ayu was unhappy as a cleaner. She had finished 12 years of schooling in Ethiopia, and she was looking for more meaningful and challenging employment.

Determined to forge a better life for herself and her daughter, Ayu turned to the social worker at her local community center, asking for help in finding a new, better job. Ayu waited to hear back from the social worker for several long weeks. Finally, the anticipated call came through. The social worker asked Ayu if she had any experience with craft making; when Ayu responded that she sewed traditional Ethiopian clothing and could knit and weave, the social worker excitedly told her about the Megemeria School for Jewelry Making.

Ayu was accepted to the program, and soon began to learn about the exciting craft of jewelry-making. "I was so excited to be accepted to Megemeria. When I first came to Israel, I knew little about the country, I could barely speak Hebrew. Now, I can carry on a full conversation in Hebrew. I get to make beautiful jewelry every day in a supportive, creative environment. I am so proud of myself, and, even better, my daughter is proud of me."

"Now, I can do anything."

Megemeria would not be possible without the generosity of donors like you – every dollar you donated helps Ayu and the 43 other graduates of Megemeria gain the skills, confidence, and knowledge that they need to become self-sufficient workers, who take pride in their creative work and support their families with dignity.

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!

Links:

Demuza: from Cleaner to Creator


Demuza was born in a small village in Gondar, in Northern Ethiopia. As part of his preparations to emigrate to Israel, Demuza and his family moved to the capital of Addis Ababa; the family waited there for six long years. During that time, Demuza got married, and supported himself and his family with crafts and embroidery. In 2002, Demuza finally made Aliyah, and came to Israel with his wife and their young daughter.


Demuza and his wife started out in the absorption center outside Jerusalem, before moving to an apartment in one of the capital’s low-income neighborhoods. During his time at the absorption center, Demuza went through an intensive Hebrew language cours, and got work as a cleaner. Even after leaving the absorption center, Demuza continued to work as a cleaner - but he dreamed of learning a trade. In Ethiopia, Demuza never had the opportunity to study, but he had a passion for learning. He began to search for courses that would help him progress professionally.


One day, Demuza turned to his community center, and was told to apply to The Megemeria School of Jewelry. When he found out that he was accepted, Demuza was ecstatic - his dream was coming true: he was going to learn a trade. Despite the language barriers and his lack of formal education, Demuza excelled in his studies.


“Thanks to YEDID and to Orna and Itzik of YVEL, I’m creating new things, and enjoying every minute of my work. Megemeria has changed me for the better. I’ve become empowered from my work, from the knowledge gained, and from the satisfaction I derive from my creations. My family is so proud of me - I shared what I learned with my children, and they helped me prepare for my Ministry Accreditation exam. They are so happy that I am an artist and craftsman and that I no longer have to work as a cleaner. Today, I tell everyone I know - go study, better yourselves. And I tell my children the same thing: invest in your studies, it will pay off.”


Megemeria would not be possible without the generosity of donors like you – every dollar you donated helps Demuza and the 43 other graduates of Megemeria gain the skills, confidence, and knowledge that they need to become self-sufficient workers, who take pride in their creative work and support their families with dignity.


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!

Addisalem Realizes a Lifelong Dream in Megemeria

From nearly the moment she touched down in Israel from Ethiopia, Addisalem found herself working as a cleaner for a manpower company. She had always dreamed of having a profession, and of making up the years of school cut short by the terrible marriage of her youth, which left her with a daughter by the age of 14. She would visit the local community center periodically, looking for courses that would help her gain the profession she longed for. One day, the center informed her that a Megemeria jewelry making course was opening, and that she was eligible to apply. 

"On the day of the entrance exams, I was very nervous," Addisalem recalls. "When I was accepted to Megemeria, I was so excited. It's a dream come true."

"I had a wonderful time in the course. Not only did I acquire a profession, I also became empowered. My family is very proud of me, and I am much more involved with my children – now, I have the confidence I need to sit down and help my daughter with Hebrew homework." 

"I wanted to thank Orna and Itzik Levy, the owners of YVEL, and YEDID, for opening up this extraordinary program, and giving me this life changing opportunity. I especially want to thank Meir, the jewelry-making instructor, and Genet, the program director, for their encouragement, their motivational speeches, and for never giving up on me."

"The classes we participated in on teamwork, conflict resolution, and keeping up with production demands in a competitive workplace really raised my self-confidence – I know now that, together with the other Megemeria graduates, I can take on any challenge you throw my way. I treasure the communication skills that I gained in those classes – not only because they have helped me improve my workplace relationships, but my relationships with my husband and children as well. Today, I am very proud of myself and my accomplishments, and I encourage all of my friends to go out and acquire a profession. I know that they won't regret it." 

The Megemeria School would not be possible without the generosity of donors like you – every dollar you donated helps Addisalem and the 43 other graduates of Megemeria gain the skills, confidence, and knowledge that they need to become self-sufficient workers, who take pride in their creative work and support their families with dignity.

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!

Mawark tells the following story of where she came from, and how she got to Megemeria: “I grew up in Gondar in the west of Ethiopia. I was married by 13, and three years later I gave birth to a boy, Joseph. My mother helped me care for the child until she made Aliyah to Israel.”

“After several years I traveled to Addis Ababa with my husband and son; I was already pregnant with my second child. I missed my mother terribly, and I wished she were there to help me raise my children. When my daughter was born, I called her “Tibus;” Patience. Half a year later, my father passed away in Israel, and my family began to pressure me to make Aliyah.”

“When we finally arrived in Israel, we bought a small apartment in Jerusalem, and I began to work as a cleaner. The hours were long, the pay was terrible, and worst of all - I never felt fulfilled. I knew that this could not be my job, that cleaning could not be my life. After three years of cleaning, I went to a social worker and told her of my dreams. I told her that I wanted to learn a profession, and she sent me to the auditions for the second cohort of YVEL. I didn’t think I would pass the first tests, but I did.” 

Thanks to Megemeria, I’ve realized my dream of learning a profession, and I’m loving every minute of it. Megemeria has boosted my self-confidence, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. Even better, my children are proud of me, and tell all of their friends about how their mother makes beautiful jewelry for a living.”

The Megemeria School would not be possible without the generosity of donors like you – every dollar you donated helped Mawark and the 21 other 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. With your help, 17 graduates are now employed by YVEL or Megemeria, along with the graduates of the first cohort. 

Megemeria jewelry sales continue to thrive! The jewelry collections of both cohorts have attracted national and international interest: Our pop-up mobile store in the prestigious Arena Mall in Herzelia Pituach has sold NIS 75,000 worth of jewelry, and we will be erecting an additional pop-up store in Tel Aviv's Gan Ha'ir Mall in November. Select pieces of the collections will also be sold at the Kabbalah Center in Tel Aviv and the Sapir jewelry store in Ra'anana. We're also expanding Megemeria's reach by developing a new eBay store. 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, pottery, woodcarvings, and cotton spinning. We're excited to create a space that will share the Ethiopian Israel story with visitors from home and abroad while generating 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!

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!

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

YEDID: The Association for Community Empowerment

Location: Jerusalem - Israel
Website: http:/​/​www.yedid.org.il/​english
Project Leader:
Tamara Kaplan
Jerusalem, Israel

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by YEDID: The Association for Community Empowerment that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project