Project Spotlight: Tebeka
The Fellowship | January 20, 2015
Fellowship-funded Tebeka works to pursue social justice, assure the civil rights of the Ethiopian immigrant community, and aid in their absorption into Israeli society. Tebeka believes that successful integration of Ethiopian Israelis will be achieved when immigrants have been incorporated into every area of Israeli society and these community members enjoy equal treatment.
Many in Israel’s Ethiopian community struggle with unemployment. While progress has been made in the absorption process over the past several decades, with more and more young Ethiopian Israelis graduating from college, many in this community still are not employed in their field of study. Ethiopian-Israeli university graduates face difficulties when attempting to enter the professional work force due to lack of connections and lack of practical, marketable skills.
Tebeka upgrades the skills of Ethiopian university graduates and helps them find jobs which integrate them into key positions within the business, public, and academic sectors. This program helps these grads take the final steps toward full absorption into Israeli society by helping them find positions in leading organizations. The program also helps instill the understanding within the Israeli business community that hiring Ethiopian-Israelis is not only a good deed but good business.
Gadi, a 29-year-old helped by this program, was born in Gondar, Ethiopia, and came to Israel with his parents and four siblings as part of Operation Moses when he was 6. “I remember our family taking the few possessions we had and walking from Ethiopia to Sudan. It took us two weeks to complete the trip. When we finally made it to Sudan we were in a camp for about three months. There was very little food, but we kept praying to God that it would all be worth it and that we would finally make it to Israel.”
When they arrived in Israel, they were placed in an absorption center in Beer Sheva. Gadi attended a local religious elementary school, where he was a good student. He was accepted into a boarding school near Tel Aviv, where most of the other students were from wealthy families. Though he didn’t have as many privileges and connections, he still graduated near the top of his class.
When Gadi graduated high school, he decided to defer his induction into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in order to learn computers. Following a one-year course, he spent two years learning computer engineering at Jordan Valley College. He was then inducted into the IDF and placed in the Central Computer Unit of the Air Force. He started as a data entry technician but eventually progressed to the position of team leader.
After he completed his three years of compulsory service, Gadi says, “Although I felt I had accumulated a lot of technical knowledge during my army years, I didn’t feel as if I had enough confidence or guidance to find a suitable position in the business world. When I heard about Tebeka and understood its goals, I decided to participate.”
With the help of the project, Gadi was able to gain interview skills through a number of interviews at a wide range of high-tech companies. Ultimately he interviewed with a bank and was offered the position. Gadi is currently working in the Organizational Systems Applications Department.
“I want to thank the donors to this project from the bottom of my heart,” Gadi says. “This project advances the cause of Ethiopian integration into Israeli society more than anything else I know. We members of the Ethiopian community know that we’re capable of doing as well as anyone else. By setting an example for the members of our community as well as proving to the leaders of Israeli business what we can do, the doors to a better future will begin to open without outside intervention. I hope that within 10 years there will no longer be a need for this project and everyone will be able to fulfill their dreams based on their personal accomplishments.”