“It was at this stage of my life, I decided it was time to explore new opportunities to make a difference in society. I quickly made the choice to become a mentor for an at-risk youth. I ended up receiving so much more than I gave.”
Earlier this month, the fourth cycle of our ‘one-to-one’ mentoring program began with an exciting opening conference. Dozens of new volunteers came to learn more about the program, which offers at-risk and underprivileged youth in their senior year of education the time, friendship, assistance, and encouragement of an adult who can help guide them through the challenges and hurdles which lay ahead of them.
We have proudly partnered with over 100 mentors, each of which forms an integral part of the ‘Spirit of Israel Mentoring Program’.
Through this wonderful program, we have been able to help youth from complex backgrounds faced with financial difficulties, learning difficulties and more, grow and evolve into mature, young adults and we have been privileged to experience many beautiful and exciting stories of mentors and mentees blossoming together. We would like to introduce Tzachi Loft, who shares his mentoring experience with us today.
“It was at this stage of my life, after 25 years of service in the government security forces, I decided it was time to explore new opportunities to make a difference in society, to impact, to share my knowledge and life experience. I quickly made the choice to join the program and mentor a young adult member of the Ethiopian Jewish community. I ended up receiving so much more than I gave.”
“I quickly realized that nothing rivalled the excitement of looking into the eyes of my mentee, while talking about his family, his immigration to Israel, his assimilation and newfound love for society, and most of all of his parents, who he proudly and lovingly, but upsettingly describes, as once wealthy in a village in Ethiopia and now hardly earning a living through low skilled professions such as working as cleaners.”
“What it means to be an Israeli and a part of Israeli society is so clear, obvious, and understandable for us as native Israelis. But for a child who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at the young age of seven, being so far away from his family, it is not so clear how to best fit into Israeli society and become a productive member of society.”
“On our first meeting, like all mentors, I made the promise to stick by him through the good, the rough and the tough times, and to be there for him whenever and wherever he may need and even when he may not. We soon began to meet again and again to discuss the future paths he could take once he completed his studies at the youth centre. At the program, we firmly believe in the proverb ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ This principle defines our aims and goals for our mentees in providing them with the best tools possible for their future in the hopes of them developing their own self confidence and gaining independence. And sometimes, despite the great difficulty, I can only provide him with the tools and materials from which he will need to build his own way into “Israeliness” and realize the vast opportunities that come with it.”
“Suddenly, the most wonderful thing happened – a year went by, and he now has a hard-earned certificate of higher education in his hand, and has been accepted into a prestigious pre-army program. He has begun his journey of change and growth, finally beginning the long awaited next chapter of his life. He sets out on a journey to recognise the strength and skills that exist within him, to realize his dreams, to delve deeper into Israeli society, to succeed in life, to break out of the circles in which he was imprisoned for so long.”
“And on the day that he sets out on his journey of change, we stand by and witness with pride and joy, an awakening in his self-esteem and confidence. We learn, get excited and become filled with great satisfaction, shed tears and proudly say to ourselves that we had a modest contribution to this change. But most importantly, we do not forget what we promised- that we would be there for him whenever and wherever he may need and even when he may not.”