The holiday season may be over, but it is not too late to give a gift that is both meaningful and will make an impact on the life of an African refugee living in a South Tel Aviv Homeless Shelter.
From March 9th-18th a group of 12 American University students and 1 faculty member will be embarking on a student-led Alternative Spring Break Trip called Israel: African Refugee Rights and the Struggle for Asylum. We need your generous contributions to be able to donate vital supplies needed by the shelter, namely: baby-care items, school supplies, shelter maintenance supplies and general shelter assistance. Thank you in advance for your support and generosity!
We will be working with the African Refugee Development Center\'s Homeless Shelter in South Tel Aviv. These refugees are fleeing mostly from the authoritative government Eritrea and genocide-stricken region of Darfur, Sudan.
Please continue reading to learn more about this important issue and our exciting project.
In the last four to six years thousands of Africans have fled to Israel to escape civil war and persecution in their own countries. Most of these refugees have come from Sudan and Eritrea, with others coming from countries as far as Cote d\'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo. After making the perilous journey on foot to Israel, those who survive cross the Israeli border only to be detained for months or even a year waiting for their nationality and threat to society to be determined. Once released they face institutionalized racism and the almost impossible task of applying for asylum or refugee status in Israel.
This trip will focus on the struggle that African refugees face in the bureaucratic grey area that is the Israeli asylum system and their battle against the odds to claim their internationally acknowledged right. Students will also gain an appreciation for the hardships refugees endure in their own countries headed by authoritative governments and in the Sinai "Torture Camps" on their grueling trek from Egypt.
We will also explore the polarized reaction across the social and political spectrum to these asylum-seekers, or what some are dubbing as "infiltrators".
Students will engage with members of the Israeli government, international development organizations, border soldiers who are witnesses to human rights abuses, religious leaders, NGOs that focus on legal and humanitarian assistance, as well as local opposition to African refugee settlement in Israel. We will also take time to interact with the asylum-seeker population of South Tel Aviv by hearing first hand accounts and developing relationships that will support the main themes of the trip; human rights, the plight of refugees, the right to asylum and Israeli nationhood.
Students will volunteer at the African Refugee Development Center's (ARDC) Homeless Shelter for women and children seeking asylum. We will work together as a group and with our host organization to arrange various meaningful and constructive workshops for the residents of the shelter, including tactical English lessons followed by a practical review in Tel Aviv's Carmel market, art and sport engagement activities with children at a local kindergarten and an art collaboration project to be displayed on the walls of the ARDC's shelter. Additionally, we will have a small documentation group that will gather the materials, such as pictures, first-hand accounts, video, and drawings, that will be used to create a documentary. We will later use these materials to present this issue and our trip to the AU and DC community at large. After returning, we will introduce the issue of African refugee settlement in Israel to those around us by organizing advocacy events, spreading awareness, fundraising and volunteering with the African refugee population in Washington DC.