Dear Friends and Supporters,
On behalf of the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC), I wish you all a Shana Tova -- Happy New Year -- one that is filled with inspiration, purpose and success.
As the Jewish New Year approaches, we prepare for new beginnings. In June, we celebrated as our friend and former director Mutasim Ali was finally granted refugee status (the first for a Sudanese national in Israel) after a four-year legal battle. It is our privilege to have him transition to ARDC’s Board, leading to a pivotal “new beginning” for ARDC as the Board appointed me, an Israeli citizen, to serve as Director. ARDC thus begins the year with a Board that represents the diversity of the asylum seeker community in Israel, and a Director who can bridge between their vision and Israeli society.
Growing up in the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) and being the grandchild of Jewish North Africans, my main goal and challenge is to bridge between the African refugee community and the Israeli population. This year will be my fourth year at ARDC, after serving as Finance Manager and Deputy Director, roles wherein I streamlined the financial management of the organization and increased its transparency. I am honored to now be able to take a bigger role and help empower one of Israel’s most vulnerable populations.
Looking forward to the coming year, I’m pleased to announce that we secured the needed funds to re-start our leadership course with a focus on women, who will gain the skills to better advocate for themselves and their community. ARDC also plans to expand its higher education program through outreach to refugee youth in high school and also to women. Moreover, we will offer increased scholarship support to our students in Israeli universities. Next year will also mark the first year in which ARDC directly targets the Israeli population through online campaigns, in order to share the reality and experiences of the community. Our goal is to promote tolerance and acceptance of asylum seekers in Israel, as our ancestors were also once refugees in search of safety.
I hope that in the coming year, you will continue to support ARDC in its goal of empowering the community and promoting tolerance in Israeli society. As ARDC moves forward, it will remain grounded in the African refugee community and the vision of a more inclusive Israel.
Thank you for continuing to be a part of our journey, and let this coming year bring a better and safer reality for the community of African asylum seekers in Israel.
Happy New Year,
ARDC, Managing Director
Ori Lahat (left) with Board Member Mutasim Ali and Chairman Osman Ali
October 2, 2016