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morah dinahSubmitted by Ten Gav:  When Ethiopian Jews first arrived in Israel they were met with great fanfare by the Israeli public.  Israel was bringing its long lost exiles home. They were welcomed and granted the basic needs of accommodation, healthcare, education and general welfare.

Unfortunately once the cameras were turned off and the process of absorption began in earnest, reality quickly set in. The road to integration and absorption has been fraught with challenges, none more so than for the elderly population. The emotional scars of their trip through Sudan and the desert -- the bandits; the disease; the hunger; the torture -- were impossible to put behind them. And the practical adjustments seemed insurmountable; learning a new language; finding a job; and the loneliness for family left behind or lost en route.

Moran Yosef, who also arrived in Israel from Ethiopia as a 5 year old on her father’s shoulders, is currently a social worker from central Israel who works exclusively with elderly Ethiopians.  She is quick to share that while they might not have had much, the Ethiopian immigrants did not leave their native country for financial reasons. "We are often portrayed as desperate and poor people who were so gentle that they could be lead anywhere. But it’s not true. We made the difficult journey because, for as long as we could remember, we had dreamed of returning to the land of our forefathers.”

Moran points out that while the general Ethiopian community continues to struggle and is perhaps, the weakest Jewish population in the country, it is it’s elderly population that is the most desperate.  “Until today, the older men in particular have not adjusted. They were used to being the respected heads of their households, yet all of a sudden their children were in better command of the new language and the rules of their new society.  In addition, we have to remember that the  grown children of many elderly have not succeeded enough to help support their parents financially.”

Ten Gav (visit www.tengav.org), a non governmental organization,  has stepped in to help. Project RESPECT for the Benefit of Elderly Ethiopians, was launched several months ago in an effort to improve the situation of this population by maintaining a fund to be utilized for buying basic needs such as beds, fridges, washers and ovens for them.

“Ten Gav is a crowd-funding platform that seeks to match donors who wish to give to needy Israelis, with the needy themselves.  We take applications for funding for basic needs as well as other requests, such as courses, medical accessories and therapies, submitted to us by professional social workers around the country.  These are front line workers who verify each and every request for assistance”, says founder and co chairman, Naomi Jacobs-Brounstein.

Since the organization’s launch about 3 years ago, its founders describe a situation where there is a constant flow of requests for basic needs for elderly Ethiopians. “Many Ethiopian elderly are living without necessities because the government cannot provide enough funding to the community,”  adds Vivi Mann, Naomi’s partner in this not-for-profit riding the wave of online giving.  “As a result of this sad situation, we have launched Project RESPECT.  We know that many people would like the opportunity to help these elderly, so we are trying to raise enough funds to be able to fill all of the requests we receive from social workers around the country,  on an as needed basis" .

In Hadera, a small city 50 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, there are approximately 600 elderly Ethiopians who are in constant need of extra support. Adia, who is 83 years old and blind, came to Israel with her son, who does not have the financial means to help her. She lives alone and survives on her meager social security. Recently, when her social worker arrived for a home visit, she noticed that Adia was sleeping on a broken and unsafe bed that was propped up against the wall.  She submitted an application to Ten Gav and funds from Project RESPECT were used to purchase and deliver  a new bed to Adia.

Ten Gav is committed to helping this underserved, alienated and financially distressed community. The Ten Gav giving platform is unique in that 100% of a donor’s gift is used to fund the case chosen.  The organization fundraises separately to cover its operating costs.  In addition, the donations are fully tax deductible in Canada and the US.  To donate directly to Project RESPECT visit www.tengav.org or https://secured.israelgives.org/donate/tengav

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