ESRA's flagship project, Students Build a Community (SBC), has been running for 13 amazingly successful years; it is now in four different areas of Netanya. What were once areas that taxis and even the police were loath to enter, have now become sought-after places to live, thanks to this project. How is that possible, you may ask? Here's how.
Selected students of higher education, financially stressed to continue their studies, are given free housing in distressed neighborhoods. In exchange, these students commit to tutoring and mentoring four schoolchildren each, for four hours a week. Beyond their tutoring and mentoring, the students become involved in the children's families, in the neighborhood, and in organizing community activities. Struggling schoolchildren gain the confidence of achieving academic success, they have a role model to aspire to, they are off the streets and no longer subject to harmful influences, and voila – the neighborhood has changed. An additional advantage - the students are enabled to complete their degrees.
After extensive preparation, this school year a new SBC project is beginning operations in Akko, in partnership with the city's municipality. Eight students, living in three apartments in Akko's city center, have begun their magic, tutoring 32 children, from third to fifth grades. But this SBC project has an added unique aspect. For the first time, ESRA is partnering with ISEF (Israel Scholarship Education Foundation) whose MA student grant recipients are committed to 80 hours of mentoring first degree students. This means that the BA students involved in the SBC project will each have an accompanying MA student helping them cope with their academic studies - the mentors will have mentors, and everyone gains.
The start of the project was marked with excitement at a special opening event in the presence of all the project's participants, and was reported in the local Akko newspaper. Here below, is a translation of the article.
Ready, Set, Go!
After long days of intensive round-the-clock work, we can finally say – we have arrived!
A few months ago representatives of the Akko Youth Center and Akko Community Centers joined forces with ESRA, with the aim of initiating and promoting a project for the benefit of the city of Akko. The project will be run by students who are the happy recipients of a grant and housing in the city.
The project's official opening ceremony was held this past Wednesday with the participation of the students. Also in attendance and addressing the audience, were the project partners including Eli Haviv, director of the municipality's youth wing; Yoram Posklinsky, managing director of Akko Community Centers; and Cathy Aron, projects coordinator for ESRA.
Nati Hajaj, the new project's Akko coordinator, was among the speakers, saying, "It is important to note that this project has emblazoned on its flag its aim - to strengthen, promote, and empower the Akko community, with an emphasis on primary school children. I have been honored with the task of managing this amazing initiative and I hope that we will further develop and expand it."
"What we do for ourselves alone, dies with us. What we do for others and for the world – lives on forever." Akko Neto (published by Yediot Aharonot) on 25 October