In recent years, Israel has emerged as one of the biggest tech superpowers in the world. The country’s socioeconomic center has turned into a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. It seems to be beaming with new opportunities and possibilities for the youth.
But a closer look into Israel’s social landscape reveals jarring disparities between different sections of the population. While people in the socioeconomic center enjoy luxury and comfort, living in the Israeli periphery is a constant battle. Worse still, more than a million Israeli children continue to live in poverty.
From food shortages to a lack of educational and employment opportunities – life in the Israeli periphery is far removed from the thriving startup and technology landscape.
But should children and youth in the periphery have to suffer because of decade-long inequities that have existed in society? What does the future hold for a country that doesn’t care for the underprivileged youth? Isn’t there a way to support these individuals with better resources and opportunities?
These are the questions that compelled Eyal Edry and his brother, Moshe Edree and Refael aka Rafi Edry, to start the Ahinoam Association for the Promotion of Equal Opportunities.
The Agony of a Lost Childhood
Eyal Edry’s childhood years were cut short when his family started facing financial hardships. His life changed overnight as he gave up his dreams of going to college, and started working to support his family instead.
He went on to enlist in the IDF and even became a patrolling paratrooper. But a near-fatal accident left Eyal Edry with a severe spinal injury. It took months of rehabilitation before he could resume his routine life.
Determined to take control of his life, he earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology. Thereafter, he joined hands with Moshe Edree and Refael Edry to launch and grow numerous businesses in Africa.
Today, the Edry brothers are renowned public figures in Israel’s business community. Their entrepreneurial endeavors have garnered acclaim and awards from all over the world.
But the pain of deprivation they’d experienced in childhood still hurts like a fresh wound. Their anguish is further compounded when they see thousands of Israeli children suffering the same plight.
That’s why Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry launched the Ahinoam Association to lend a helping hand to at-risk youth living in Israel’s periphery. Through the organization, the Edry brothers have started various initiatives to support children and adolescents from underprivileged backgrounds.
Decades of Mentoring
The Ahinoam Association runs a long-term mentoring program that identifies and nurtures at-risk youth living in the Israeli periphery. The organization’s volunteers work with youngsters to understand their needs and create a personalized growth plan.
They handhold the youth from high school and graduation to their eventual integration into the job market. They help each individual develop the necessary skills and acumen to leverage existing employment opportunities.
Providing Financial Aid
Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry are familiar with the repercussions of financial hardships on children and adolescents. Despite the zeal to build a better future, many students can’t pursue formal education due to a lack of funds.
A recent survey reveals that many children in the periphery don’t have access to basic school supplies. Nor do they have personal computers, smartphones, and internet connectivity at home.
That’s why the Ahinoam Association runs scholarship programs to help students in low-income households. With the organization’s financial assistance, these students get the freedom to prioritize their education and career.
Supporting the Ethiopian Community
Apart from the Israeli youth, the Ahinoam Association also works with Ethiopian immigrants. The organization helps them develop skills and leadership qualities to facilitate their integration into Israeli society. Also, it runs a training program for the admission of Ethiopian youth to the IDF.
Fundraising Initiative for Digital Equity
Israeli educational institutions turned to online classes to cope with the pandemic. But they failed to realize that more than 400,000 children in the country don’t have computers at home.
The digital disparity prompted the Edry brothers to launch a fundraising campaign. They invited donations from the general public and local businesses to help provide computers to Israeli students.
The campaign has helped thousands of students from underprivileged backgrounds continue to study at home.
The Ahinoam Association has launched various development projects to improve the infrastructure of welfare organizations in Israel’s rural periphery. The organization has already funded the construction of an elementary school library in Safed. Also, it’s working to promote access to education, with an emphasis on music and art.
Despite a tough childhood, Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry regained control of their lives and became successful entrepreneurs. But they understand the suffering that comes with a lack of opportunities and resources.
That’s why they’ve been working round-the-clock to support younger generations in Israel’s periphery through various welfare programs, including scholarships, mentoring, and fundraising initiatives.