AJEEC-NISPED always has been characterized by a commitment to improving the lives of all of the people of the Negev and beyond, from all communities. Despite the challenges that we face, we are convinced that our optimistic faith in equality, empowerment and cooperation will enable us to overcome the obstacles that we may face together.
The past year has seen a number of notable successes, including:
As we look ahead, we remain determined to find new opportunities to improve the lives of all members of the community. The devotion of nearly 200 employees and 1,300 volunteers forms the backbone of our organization. A reverse sample of Israeli society, with 80% of staff from the Bedouin community and 20 percent from the Jewish majority, on a daily basis our human resources model and reaffirm their commitment to creating the civil society in which we all desire to live, together, in prosperity and equality.
We at AJEEC-NISPED are proud to be part of this process.
Kher Albaz and Ariel Dloomy
The Arab-Jewish Volunteer Year offers young people from both communities the opportunity for leadership development through a full year of joint study, dialogue and community service. In autumn 2016, a third location opened in Jaffa, joining the long-established cohort in the Negev and the second site in Lod opened in 2015. By the end of 2016, the program included 67 participants, Arab and Jewish high school graduates. The number are participants will continue to increase starting autumn 2017, and expansions to new sites are planned for the near future, starting with Ramla.
Since 2009, the Shared Society Program has brought together “hesitant populations” – Arab and Jewish high school administrators, teachers and students who otherwise would have little opportunity to interact with each other. Schools are “paired” and students participate in team-building activities. The program may be their first opportunity for personal interaction in a relaxed atmosphere with their peers from the other community. Participants gain a deeper understanding of their society, and also have the chance to make new friends. During the 2016-2017 cohort, the program encompasses 17 Arab and 17 Jewish schools, reaching a total of over 800 students.
The Taliyah (“Pioneering” in Arabic) Gap Year continues its program of volunteerism, social trainings and leadership development for young Arab women who have just completed high school. Continuing the national expansion begun last year in Qalansawa, starting in autumn 2016 two additional locations were added: Kfar Kassem in Central Israel and Ilut in the Galilee. The number of cohorts in the Negev has risen from 3 to 4, and the program now includes 150 participants. Over 1,000 elementary and high school students benefit from the program’s volunteer tutoring component. The rate of alumni enrolling in university continues to be over 70%. Plans for additional expansions in the Negev as well as in the Center and in the Galilee are in process.
AJEEC-NISPED’s Youth Organization brings together Arab young people from around the northern Negev for cooperation in a series of local volunteer programs. Participants, both at the university and high school levels, benefit academically and hone the skills that will make them the leaders of their communities in the future. The organization currently involves over 3,500 university and high school students. It aims to expand to the national level to reach over 10,000 beneficiaries.
now involves 400 students from 5 higher educational institutions throughout the Negev tutoring and working with 3,000 elementary and high school children.
is a high school based program operating in 11 recognized and unrecognized villages in the Negev. Student volunteers lead groups, engaging over 350 high school students, in weekly sessions, as well as in developing and implementing community projects.
is a program for university students, now with 18 participants, combining leadership development with community involvement, active citizenship and building social projects
The second annual Rahat-AJEEC Conference on Shared Society in the Negev brought together hundreds of participants from the public, private and non-profit sectors. Panel discussions addressed key questions such as health and equality of economic opportunity. The a keynote speech was delivered by Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List in the Knesset. The conference also was notable for its more extensive partnerships than the in the previous year. The B’nei Shimon Regional Council joined the City of Rahat and AJEEC-NISPED as a co-sponsor, while the Idan HaNegev Industrial Zone provided the venue.
AJEEC-NISPED’s Economic Department designs, implements and expands programs that promote socio-economic development in the Negev region, particularly in the Bedouin community. Three social businesses, operated by AJEEC-NISPED with local partners, donate their profits into community development programs. The Al Sanabel Catering Enterprise, founded in 2009, now produces 9,000 hot meals daily for school students at the original Hura location, with 3,200 daily at the new Migdal Ha’Emek facility. Over the past year, the Jawla Tour Company has conducted 50 educational tours led by local Bedouin tour guides for 1,600 participants from Israel and abroad. Another social business co-owned by AJEEC-NISPED, the El Hudaj Women’s Fitness and Wellness Center now has over 250 members using its state-of-the-art fitness facilities. The Foundations for Women’s Success Program (formerly Women Weaving a Dream) is currently training over 100 women from the most disadvantaged sectors of the Bedouin community in 2016, equipping them with the skills needed to enter the workforce or start their own home businesses.
The Bridges to Employment program is envisioned as a comprehensive school-to-employment pipeline for aspiring young Bedouin hi-tech and industrial professionals. BridgeTech, the hi-tech component, launched in August 2016 and has offered 21 participants a program of preparation for the psychometric exams, supplementary academic classes, volunteer involvement in the community and mini-internships at the companies of the Beersheva Hi-Tech Park. A sister program, focused on aspiring industrial professionals, will open in autumn 2017 in partnership with the Idan HaNegev Industrial Zone. Both the hi-tech and industrial components also will expand to engage with high schools and provide support with job placement and career development.
AJEEC-NISPED’s Parents as Partners initiative operates 20 early childhood locations around the Negev in both recognized and unrecognized villages. They continue to offer services to approximately 300 children aged 1-3 and employ 40 women. All employees are themselves from the local communities, ensuring that they have an implicit understanding of the beneficiaries whom they serve. A key part of the program is special early detection days, where children can be assessed for possible developmental delays and referred for consultations with relevant medical professionals.
AJEEC-NISPED has identified the greater Hebron Stream watershed area, which encompasses Hebron, Beersheva and nearby communities, as the main focus area for regional Middle East projects. Currently, in partnership with a local Palestinian partner, the Green Land Society, AJEEC-NISPED is concluding a project to examine the impact of e-waste in the Hebron Hills, specifically in the towns of Beit Awwa, Deir Samet and Idhna, which is expected to finish at the end of 2017. We also are in the process of mapping opportunities for further projects including identifying potential partners. Two broad ideas include exploring possibilities for stronger mutually beneficial environmental management across the Green Line, as well as tourism focused on the interfaith Abrahamic heritage shared by Hebron and Beersheva.
During 2016, there were 2 international agricultural cooperative development courses implemented on contract from MASHAV, with a total of 50 participants from around Africa. Delegations of agricultural officials also visited, from China and Nigeria, along with mixed group from ICA Africa. AJEEC-NISPED is in the process of examining new opportunities, both through MASHAV and through other channels, to train groups from Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the world.