The life of a typical 17-year-old is filled with dreams of building a successful life. Standing at the cusp of adulthood, their eyes are set on the horizon of new possibilities awaiting them. They can’t wait to explore what the next chapter of their life has in store.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for thousands of youngsters in the Israeli periphery. Living in extreme poverty, these children have to struggle for basic necessities, such as food and shelter. Going to college and earning a respectable degree isn’t among their top priorities.
Even if they want to pursue higher education, the lack of proper resources, such as internet connectivity, smartphones, and computers, forces them to curb their dreams.
But the Israeli youth continue to suffer because of unfair social disparities that have existed for ages?
Should children be denied the hope for a better future simply because they weren’t born in the country’s bustling socioeconomic center?
If an entire generation of youngsters grows up in extreme deprivation, what does that mean for the country’s future?
These are the questions that drive Eyal Edry and his brothers, Moshe Edree and Refael aka Rafi Edry to work for the upliftment of the youth in Israel’s periphery.
Reclaiming a Lost Childhood
Born and raised in Safed, Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry are the founders of the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities.
Their father was a building contractor who worked day and night to sustain the family. But with so many mouths to feed, the family faced intense financial struggles in the 1970s.
Eyal Edry decided to put his dreams of a college degree and a prestigious job on hold. Instead, he started working to support his family. He was only 17-years-old at the time.
Having experienced the pain of deprivation first-hand, Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry know what it’s like to live on the fringes of Israeli society. Today, the three brothers run several successful businesses in Africa. Eyal Edry even served as a paratrooper and earned a degree in psychology.
But all these achievements seem futile to the Edry brothers when they realize that thousands of children are still facing those same struggles five decades later.
That’s what prompted them to establish the Ahinoam Association. Their goal is to provide children and adolescents with a robust support system they never had in their childhood.
Mentoring the Youth
The Ahinoam Association supports at-risk youth in the Israeli periphery to help them find their footing in society. The organization identifies and locates these youngsters, and works with them to create a customized career plan. They also assist the youth in acquiring suitable skills for their integration into the job market.
Providing Financial Support
With more than 1.8 million Israelis living in poverty, a lack of funds often forces children to drop out of school. Instead, they work under hazardous conditions in factories to support their families.
That’s why the Ahinoam Association has launched various scholarship programs to provide financial support to children from low-income households.
Developing the Periphery
Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry understand the importance of peripheral development in Israel. They’ve invested various resources to improve the infrastructure of welfare organizations across the country’s periphery. The idea is to provide students with access to educational resources wherever they are.
Fundraising During the Pandemic
When Israeli schools closed their gates due to the pandemic, nearly 400,000 students didn’t have the resources to join online classes. The digital divide between Israel’s periphery and the center became even more apparent when these students struggled to continue their education.
Eyal Edry and his brothers stepped in with a fundraising campaign that urged businesses and ordinary citizens to donate. The initiative helped provide computers to more than 30,000 students in Israel.
Important Lessons from the Ahinoam Association’s Initiatives
Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry’s efforts are a testament to the power of ordinary people. Instead of waiting for government authorities to take action, the Edry brothers have been working at the grassroots level to uplift the youth.
It goes to show that even ordinary citizens can make a difference in society with their resilience and perseverance.
And above all, it highlights the importance of focusing on a country’s youth. Otherwise, as Eyal Edry believes, a lack of equal opportunities could threaten to disintegrate Israel’s social fabric.