Sixteen-year-old Dahan has heard many stories from his parents of their struggle to get from their homeland of Ethiopia to their spiritual homeland of Israel. But Dahan has struggles of his own. “My parents left Ethiopia in 1993, but they have barely adapted to life in Israel,” he explains.
Like many Ethiopians, Dahan’s parents had no education, no exposure to modern life, and no job skills when they made aliyah (immigrated to Israel). Dahan’s father still struggles to find temporary jobs and his mother cleans houses – when she can find work. Due to these challenges, the family lives in poverty and Dahan has had to find his own way in Israel.
Dahan was a troubled teen struggling in school until he got involved in a local youth center sponsored by The Fellowship’s Guardians of Israel program. At the center Dahan receives help with his schoolwork, and has found a community of other Ethiopian youth who rely on each other for friendship and support. Dahan has even joined a special program that celebrates the distinct culture of Ethiopian Jews.
Since going to the youth center after school each day, Dahan’s grades have improved. He is grateful for the youth center and explains that it has had a very positive impact on his life. “My time at the Fellowship youth center has changed my overall outlook,” he says. “I no longer blame my parents for not adapting to Israel, and I now know that I have the support I need to ensure that I don’t end up in the same cycle of poverty.”
Dahan now has set a goal of joining an elite combat unit in the Israeli army when he turns 18. This is common among the kids at the Fellowship-funded center, where young people find a sense of purpose that inspires them to want to give back to Israeli society in any way they can