Empowering Neighborhoods - The Narkis Ethiopian Community

Empowerment via Knowledge and Skills – Building Leadership and a Path towards Success

“The Ethiopian immigrants came to Israel with a dream of living as equal contributing pic_narkiscitizens in the State of Israel. This Pilot Project aims to empower this community by helping them gain skills, knowledge and positive experiences so that they can in fact change their lives and the futures of their children for the better and successfully integrate into Israeli society”. 

While some did, there are many who sadly are floundering due to lack of education, language, finances, marketable skills, and the ability to advocate for themselves. Their families have fallen into a cycle of poverty and the Narkis Community in Beit Shemesh is a sad example of a neglected community where the youth have very little examples of Parental Authority and little hope for a brighter future.

Keren Shemesh Does not “make people” – it plants seeds that then enable them to grow and flourish – Independently.

Keren Shemesh firmly believes that helping people gain the skills and knowledge needed to be able to function and flourish in society is the optimal way to empower people and get them on their way to independence, productivity and success.

Proposed Community Rehabilitative Project:

The Problem: The Ethiopian Hanarkis Immigrant Community is poverty ridden. Many of the adults have almost no Hebrew language skills and subsequently cannot find pic_narkis2meaningful work and have little ability to advocate for themselves within the government systems (such as Social Services and the Municipality) which are meant to help them. There is a feeling of despair and hopelessness which has translated itself into a substantial portion of the youth becoming involved in delinquent activities such as petty crime, alcohol consumption and violence, we believe – leading to more failure and the repeating cycle of despair and crime etc. The neighborhood has been physically neglected, adding to the feelings of despair and resentment. The Ethiopian Narkis Community, local Police and the neighboring largely English speaking Nofei Aviv community, have had to deal with this “cycle of misery” and have experienced (both as victims and as professionals) the crime and social problems which have spilled over into their community and professional domain. Nevertheless, there is a strong desire from both the Aviv community and the local Police to be part of positive change. Aviv residents are largely idealistic Anglo immigrants who have come to help Israel grow into a democratic thriving country. They are motivated to help their Ethiopian fellow immigrants thrive and become both Better Neighbors and Productive members of Israeli society.

Keren Shemesh proposes to create a One Year Pilot Project for Community Rehabilitation within the Narkis Ethiopian Community in Beit Shemesh, Israel.
This project will imbue the residents of this community with knowledge, skills and leadership that will enable them to see productivity emanate from within their community and future generations – the youth.

Project Objectives:IMG_4916

  1. Rehabilitation of the Physical Environment in this “slum like” area. This would include for example, fixing broken stairways that connect the buildings, regular clearing of garbage, fixing and maintaining outside lighting as well as lighting within the building stairwells. Most importantly, the community will learn how to maintain a cleaner, safer environment and how to organize itself with a leadership who will represent them and who will make sure there is continual follow up in this area.
  2. Imbuing the Community with Knowledge and Skills that will lead to Communal Leadership. This will include the creation of Vaadot Bayit/Shechunah (Building and Communal Committees) as well as a Community Administration who will work with Official Bodies to achieve results and ongoing positive change in their neighborhood. They will be responsible for overseeing the physical maintenance of the neighborhood. Each building will have its own building committee and together the building committee leaders will form a Communal Committee. The Communal Committee will also be the body to face government agencies and to advocate for services.
  3. One of the aims of this project is to partner with other agencies that will see that here is a community that is investing in change and development.

Achieving Objectives:IMG_5072

  1. Hiring a Coordinator to supervise and oversee this project. This coordinator will not only oversee the work being done by people “working on the ground” but will also be in regular contact with supervisory university staff who work with the university students that will work on this project as their “stage” or field work placements.
  2. Recruiting University students who will run this program under the joint supervision of the Coordinator as well as the university department’s staff.
  3. Keren Shemesh foresees having 11 sets of university students who will run programming to achieve the aforementioned objectives. Each set of students will take responsibility for buildings in the Narkis Community Project. They will work on the Educational Program that will include courses and lectures for parents, adults and youth. Keren Shemesh will strive to find both Ethiopian students as well as students from the general population to work on this project. Ethiopian students will better be able to communicate and will also be viewed as Positive Role Models for the local youth of this community.
  4. The Students and the Coordinator along with local leadership and with the volunteers will initially have regular weekly meetings.
  5. Time Frame: The entire program would run for approximately 10 months.  This would include preparatory time for the Coordinator to liaise with the universities, create learning programs, recruit the volunteers who will be working with the students, etc…Students usually do field placements between October and May.The Coordinator would do the follow up work including a report regarding the outcome of the program and its objectives. It would be assessed regarding the Achievement of the Project Goals.


It is our hope that other official bodies will be inspired to partner in this worthy endeavor, seeing the concrete changes in this community that we believe can be achieved.

Program Results:

It is our hope that other official bodies will be inspired to partner in this worthy endeavor, seeing the concrete

  • Successful coordination of Vaadot Bayit for each of the buildings;
  • Successful coordination of Vaadat Shechunah;
  • Community Involvement in the Physical Maintenance of the Building Project including ensuring that there is lighting in the building stairwells and in the outside areas connecting the buildings;
  • What resources were involved in helping maintain this rehabilitative program and how will this be continued after the Pilot Project has been completed?

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