Friday, June 13, 2008

Ethiopian immigrants

About once a month I deliver food parcels to poor Ethiopian immigrants. It so happens that Netanya has a large contingent of Ethiopians living here, and some of them are of course unable to find work and have many children. A small proportion of the poor immigrants are also Russians. The recipients are chosen by social workers who work for the Welfare Dept. of the City and select the most needy.
The all-volunteer private organization that buys the food and is responsible for its distribution is called Keren Olim (Fund for immigrants) and is a registered Amutah (non-profit organization #58-041-255-9) that has been functioning here for ca. 19 years. I am one of ca. 40 drivers that deliver the food to different routes of usually 8 families out of a total of ca. 300 families. I have seen the gratitude on the faces of mothers and children when we come with the food parcels. In two cases the fathers were crippled. Clearly they are not able to afford enough food, and would otherwise go hungry.
The price of food has been increasing dramatically around the world, causing food riots in Mexico, Spain and India. Also here in Israel this rise in prices has caused Keren Olim to experience for the first time financial difficulties such that the contents of the food parcels had to be cut down and there was a concern that it might have to close down altogether. The leaders of Keren Olim have recently been to Jerusalem and fortunately their appeal to a large chain of food stores to provide food to Keren Olim at reduced rates has been successful. This has ameliorated the situation, but has not solved it.
The problem is, if we don't help our Ethiopian immigrants noone else will. These are not people who can work, these are the poorest of the poor, who cannot speak Hebrew and often have medical problems. The Govt. and municipality for whatever reasons cannot provide them with enough welfare. I am appealing to you, anyone who reads this, to please send an emergency contribution to the Keren Olim fund. This is a real person-to-person organization, and without an infusion of funds in the near future to purchase the food the whole organization may collapse. As Jews we cannot allow people to go hungry in our cities and we cannot allow a black underclass to develop.
This is a genuine crisis, and I am doing this purely on a personal basis. Here is the information, send checks to: Keren Olim Fund for People in Need, 10a/33 Rehov Nitza, Netanya 42262, Israel. See the attachments for further details.


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