When it comes to helping the needy, Jewish teacher and philosopher Maimonides instructed, we shouldn’t just aim to alleviate their poverty momentarily, but should strive to restore an impoverished person’s dignity. We do this by giving them the opportunity to work and earn a living on their own, thereby empowering them to become financially independent. This form of charity seeks to end the cycle of poverty, having a positive effect on the community.
In the spirit of Maimonides’ teaching, The Fellowship is proud to announce our new Azimut project. Azimut reaches out to adults ages 21-35 who are struggling to get by and are lacking the proper guidance, confidence, financial support, or skills they need in order to succeed and become financially independent.
The Fellowship’s Azimut initiative is a grassroots project, meaning our field agents go out into the community to find candidates who are a good fit for our program. The basic criteria for any candidate is to have no record of drug use or violence. We also hope to find many Ethiopian participants, as they are the population that suffers the most, both economically and culturally, in Israel today.
Once introduced to The Fellowship program, Azimut participants begin by meeting our field agents once a week. During these meetings, we identify the person’s strengths and weaknesses with the aim of helping them develop personally and professionally so that, eventually, they can enter the Israeli workforce feeling confident and successful.
Many of the young adults our agents meet need our help in a variety of ways. Some need job training and counseling, some need to learn money management skills, and others have specific needs based on their life experiences.
A Heartbreaking Story
Etti, a Fellowship representative on the ground, recently shared a story of one our Azimut participants, which highlights the incredible personal care our staff offers to those we help.
Etti recalls her first introductory meeting with Adanu this past November. At age 32, Adanu had endured too many hardships. A single mother of two, who made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) from Ethiopia when she was a young girl, Adanu never felt fully established in Israel. Living with her two kids in a tiny, dilapidated apartment, Adanu painfully explained her difficult situation to Etti.
The living room window where her two young kids sleep on the floor is broken, and so she cuddles with them every night in her room just to keep them warm. She doesn’t own blankets or beds for her kids, so they’ve gotten used to sleeping on the cold floor. To make matters worse, Adanu has accumulated debt – owing money to the electric company, water company, and the local municipality for property tax.
Furthermore, Adanu is stuck in a job where her manager continually mistreats her. Hired as a cook for a large supermarket, Adanu’s manager demoted her to stocking shelves, washing the floors, and all sorts of menial tasks, which were not part of her original job description.
Adanu makes a minimum wage that does not even cover her basic living expenses, works night shifts and is on-call 24 hours a day. Whenever someone cancels a shift, Adanu has to drag her sleeping kids to her mother’s apartment so she can work a night shift.
Hearing Adanu tell her story nearly broke Etti’s heart. “As I wrapped myself in my warm blanket at home, I thought of Adanu and sadness filled my heart. How can I sleep so comfortably knowing that Adanu and her kids are freezing on the floor of their apartment?” Etti says. “I began to pray that God would show me the quickest way to help Adanu and set her on a new path in life.”
God's Miraculous Provision
Fellowship field agents have connections with nonprofit agencies throughout Israel that offer help to the poor. So Etti immediately began to seek aid for Adanu. First, she found her a donation for a new window, as well as a repair man who volunteered to install it for free. And she even obtained a donation for an electric heating unit, as well as warm down blankets for the family.
The Fellowship also gave her a grant to help her lessen her debt, and Etti found other organizations, who, together with The Fellowship’s donation, enabled Etti and Adanu to formulate a financial plan to pay back all of her debt. Slowly but steadily, Adanu’s life came together, and with each step, Adanu’s confidence began to grow, and a smile began to slowly return to her face.
“At this point I felt inspired to push her to take the next big step,” Etti recalls. “With her renewed confidence, I wanted Adanu to start looking for a new job.” Not even ten minutes passed and Adanu called Etti’s cell phone crying, “I quit my job. I could not take the abuse any longer, but now I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Thankfully, Etti knew a friend with connections to many businesses that need caterers to provide hot meals for their employees. Etti convinced her friend to put in a good word for Adanu and to get her an interview as a cook for one of these catering vendors.
Less than a day passed and Etti’s prayers were answered. A caterer, who was looking for a cook, hired Adanu, asking her to work the day shift. This allows her to be with her kids in the evenings, which is truly a blessing. She also has receives much better pay, and is even thinking of moving into a newer apartment in a better neighborhood.
The Fellowship cannot wait to help more just like Adanu. Every day, our agents visit the poorest neighborhoods in Israel hoping to find those we can help. With this project and our agents on the ground, The Fellowship will bring hope to the struggling young adults of Israeli society, turning these young men and women into our country’s greatest strength!