The Hebrew name for this project is א"ח בקהילה which has two meanings in English: Academics Mentoring in the Community, or, A Brother in the Community. And this exactly describes the essence of this project in which ESRA has been involved together with the Welfare Department of the Rishon LeZion Municipality for four years. It is a partnership of ESRA, the Municipality, The College in Rishon and other foundations. The Project was brought to us thanks to Janet Kiesari who chairs the ESRA Rishon leZion Committee.
Students at the College receive a scholarship for their studies in exchange for which they each mentor a group of three kids from the weaker communities in the town, acting as both mentors and big brothers / sisters to the group. The students have several joint meetings for training purposes and the groups of students and kids meet every few months for a special outing or activity.
Danielle Sadeh, the new coordinator of the Project this year, has had a challenging year working under the Corona restrictions, but is nevertheless doing a great job.
"Recently, we have had many and varied activities in the program. On Holocaust Memorial Day each group received a memorial candle with the name of a person who perished in the Holocaust. Together they read about the story of that person so that it became personal and not just a name on a list. They experienced together the story of the same person.
"The same was done for the IDF Memorial Day and the students and pupils found it very moving.
"In April we conducted an enriching, instructive and mentally challenging student training session in which we talked about the trials and dilemmas of the past year and the ways to continue to the end of the year. In the next session, we will discuss how to end the year with each student's pupils and what they want their kids to leave the program with.
"The excellent news is that a unique learning center will soon open in the community. After much thought and receiving feedback from the children's parents, we discovered that there was a serious learning problem among the children due to the Corona and distance learning. This Center will handle learning with a professional team, but in a slightly different, more interesting way that will not tire and bore the pupils. The Center, true to the ideals of our project, will also deal with social and personal enrichment of each pupil, building both academic and social confidence.
"A group of teacher-training students writes sets of innovative and creative learning activities that will be distributed amongst the students in the project. Learning will be done by fun activities instead of frontal teaching. We are very excited about this project and know it will be the right way to push these kids forward.
"This has been a really exciting year for me and I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you ESRA, for the help, support and for being part of the community. Without you - all this would not have happened.
"I am proud to be at the forefront of this amazing program that is intensifying at every possible level."
ESRA and the Rishon Municipality have decided next year to go one step further and create, in addition, a Students Build a Community Project in one of the weaker areas of the city. A very exciting upgrade to which we're are looking forward.