I am a Mechanical Engineering student in my last year at ORT Braude College, in Karmiel.
I have been involved with ESRA's Students Build a Community Project, in the city of Akko from its inception, and I am now in my third year in the project.
All my life I grew up in the city of Akko. I grew up in a complex reality in a difficult neighborhood and almost never had any of the things that seem trivial to kids today. Before I entered the IDF I was not aware of the possibilities I had to advance in life. No-one in my family had ever acquired an academic education and my parents were only concerned with providing for us and trying to give us the essentials, so there was no time for, nor awareness of, how to progress in life. Slowly I discovered a lot of "exit" options, to enable me to be successful in life. I started to make enquiries and set goals for myself and worked to achieve them.
Today I am nearing graduation, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and I am already working in the field with a respectable salary. I am fulfilling my ambitions and aware of my abilities, something that ten-years ago I would not have believed.
I am grateful for the privilege of taking part in ESRA's project in Akko. I believe I have empowered "my" children by sharing some of my life's experiences, through the challenges and difficulties that led to the long road toward a prestigious degree. I try very hard to be a big brother and role-model for the kids. When I have activities with them, they remind me of myself as a kid because we come from more or less the same backgrounds. My sessions with the kids include studies, board and brain-games, sessions that focus on sports, and sometimes just a conversation about various topics.
In conclusion, I will quote from Rabbi Carlebach's words: "All a child needs is one adult to believe in him," and I try to be that adult. My goal for this year is to prepare the kids, who are now in 6th grade, for Junior High-School, to help them believe more in themselves and to know that it is possible to achieve great things later in life, no matter what background you come from.
I would like to thank ESRA for your significant contribution to the students, children and the City. We are beginning to feel the change the project is making in the City.