‘A stable, loving environment, food in their stomachs every day and a place they can go to sleep every night knowing they will be safe in the morning.’
African refugee boys get a new start in Israel
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Some years ago, while out on jogs a mile and a half from the Sinai border, David Palmach, regularly saw traumatized refugees from Eritrea and Sudan dropping to the sand in exhaustion.
The refugees had come overland from home countries torn by strife, and had made a long and dangerous journey to Israel, often by way of Bedouin torture camps in the Sinai desert, and past trigger-happy Egyptian soldiers.
Up until two years ago, on arrival in Israel they were taken to prison-like facilities for lack of suitable alternatives. In 2010, however, Israel’s lawmakers decided to find ways to house and educate the many teenage boys among these African refugees and asylum-seekers. Palmach was one of the first to step in.
Palmach, the director of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Nitzana Educational Community today runs Tikun Olam, a special boarding school set up for teenage African refugees at Nitzana, an Israeli kibbutz near the Egyptian border.