Community Engagement & Service

The Refugee Voice: African Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Israel

The Trip:
This trip will focus on human rights issues facing African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. We seek to bring awareness to the struggle of African refugees in their home countries as well as under the Israeli government and examine the point of views of various stakeholders in Israel across the social and political spectrum.
More than 60,000 African asylum seekers reside in Israel today, most having arrived in the past five years. The vast majority have come from Eritrea and Sudan, crossing the border on foot from Egypt. Their journey is hard and perilous and once in Israel many refugees face institutionalized discrimination that prohibits them from being able to work, receive health care, housing and education.

By working with the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) and various community partner organizations in Israel that are aware of the refugee situation, we hope to expose students to the refugees’ struggle as well as provide them with an understanding of African development, immigration policy and human rights issues in Israel. Participants will also hear from various stakeholders to understand more about how African refugee and asylum seekers fit into the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

Participants on this trip will work alongside African refugees and will include multiple service projects for students to choose from, including: teaching ESL classes, volunteering at a refugee health clinic, writing and blogging for a grassroots newspaper to bring awareness about the African Refugee community in Israel, and planning a fundraiser for ARDC.

About the Student Leaders:

Heidi Bloom is a second year graduate student in the International Training and Education Program (ITEP). She is on the international development track with a special interest in peace education. Heidi lived in Israel for five months, working at the African Refugee Development Center developing a mentor program for asylum-seeking children. She has been looking forward to working with this community once again and raising an awareness of the issue.

Annelise Cohon is a second year graduate student in the International Training and Education Program (ITEP). She is interested in international development and global health. Annelise spent a year in Israel as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar studying Peace and Conflict studies at the University of Haifa and working at the oldest grassroots feminist center in Israel, Isha’L’Isha. While in Israel, Annelise examined human trafficking and disability issues. She is looking forward to returning to Israel and co-leading this trip with her fellow ITEPer Heidi.

Sample Itinerary: (Please note that this itinerary is subject to change)

Day 1
Washington, DC
Fly to Israel

Day 2
Tel Aviv
Scavenger hunt to discover Tel Aviv/Jaffa
Historical Jaffa tour

Day 3
Tel Aviv
ARDC orientation to talk about Refugee and immigrant issues
Tour of refugee neighborhoods
Visit refugee homes and medical clinic  

Day 4
Tel Aviv
Volunteer morning with ARDC
Meet with community partner organizations
Explore Sheinken Street

Day 5
Tel Aviv
Volunteer morning with ARDC
Group activity in Park Hayarkon
Make dinner at the Refugee Shelter

Day 6
Tel Aviv
Volunteer morning with ARDC
Head to Jerusalem

Day 7
Walking tour of the Old City
Meet with two Knesset members
Meet with Rabbis for Human Rights

Day 8
Visit Western Wall
Ben Yehuda market scavenger hunt trip
Shabbat service

Day 9
Jerusalem/ Bethlehem
Visit with the Aida Refugee camp to address the Palestinian refugees in Israel
Jerusalem Rotary Club tour

Day 10
Tour of Masada
Dead Sea/Ein Gedi

Day 11
Volunteer with Yad b’ Yad an integrated school with Israelis and Palestinians
Visit African refugee camp

Day 12
Jerusalem/ Tel Aviv
Volunteer morning with ARDC
Meet with neighborhood groups
Visit mosque

Day 13
Tel Aviv
Volunteer morning with ARDC
Sleep in a Bedouin camp

Day 14
Tel Aviv
Wrap up final projects with ARDC

Day 15
Tel Aviv
Fun beach day with Israelis and African Refugees

Day 16
Tel Aviv/ Washington, DC  
Fly home!


Location: Israel

Dates: December 27, 2013 – January 11, 2014

Email the Student Trip Leaders: Heidi Bloom and Annelise Cohon

Faculty Advisor: Illana Lancaster, SETH

Cost: $2,400 per student
Cost includes airfare, lodging, travel insurance, food, transportation, guides, and activities.