Ben-Gurion University (BGU) Hillel in Beersheva, Israel, has created a project called City of Refuge to help the hundreds of African refugees and asylum seekers in the south of Israel, most notably in Arad, a half hour away from Beersheva. The refugees have fled countries lacking food, shelter, and security.
The goal of the City of Refuge project is to help refugees and asylum seekers adapt to Israel until the government sets a policy to provide them with basic services. For most of these people, there is no formal framework for economic, emotional, educational or psychological support. All of them need significant humanitarian aid for their basic needs, especially with regard to education and care of their children.
The project includes weekly lessons in English and Hebrew; an empowerment group for Sudanese women and support for those who are pregnant; and activities for the children after school and during vacation. In addition, the Hillel coordinator often serves as their representative to local authorities, and BGU Hillel periodically collects contributions of clothing and other goods on campus for their benefit.
Alongside the programs targeted to the refugee population, BGU Hillel is conducting widespread publicity campaigns to raise awareness of this important issue on campus. These programs include donation drives, film screenings, and encounters with refugees and asylum seekers.
Hillels interested in initiating and implementing a program to raise awareness and funds for the Africans in Israel may contact BGU Hillel Director Assaf Ovadia: firstname.lastname@example.org