To boost the initiative – designed to raise awareness of widespread poverty in the country – tens of business owners sell the students food at a cost of only NIS 2.
Students at WIZO’s Nir Ha’emek Youth Village decided they could not overlook poverty in Israel and embarked on a unique campaign under the slogan “One in three hungry.” Their goal was to raise awareness of poverty statistics indicating that one out of every three children in Israel does not have enough to eat, and to inspire other young people to become involved and accept responsibility for social issues.
The campaign reached its culmination on Monday, February 2nd, which was declared a “Day Without Hunger” throughout the country. Tens of businesses in the north, among them restaurants, pizzerias, kiosks, cafés and others, showed willing and joined the campaign, opening their doors to the students, who were able to buy food for the modest sum of only NIS 2. Afula Municipality also supported the project by donating billboards to advertize the initiative.
Afula area residents arrived at the city square in crowds, accompanied by their children, to join in the activities and support the Nir Ha’emek students, who were there to explain the project and circulate among the business owners distributing flyers listing the country’s poverty figures.
Hundreds of people took part in the energetic initiative and the student council set up its own stand in the square, offering 300 hot dogs, also charged at NIS 2. The activity was accompanied by music and a song, especially composed for the occasion, was played repeatedly.
This day marked only the first stage of a campaign which is planned to extend in the future to many schools around Israel.
In November 2014 the National Insurance Institute published the annual poverty report stating that 18.6% of families in Israel live below the poverty line. This translates into 432,000 families with 757,000 children, representing 30% of Israeli children overall.
The Chairperson of the WIZO Nir Ha’emek students’ council, Shaked Shusu, explains: “We felt we must do something to rouse the public from its apathy. We believe that we, the younger generation, have both an obligation and the ability to bring about a change in Israel’s social status quo. We decided that now, with the country’s decision makers focusing their energies on the upcoming elections, is exactly the right time to take action. Unfortunately, the subjects of poverty and hunger seem to be given only marginal attention, but we aspire to achieving an ideal situation where there are no more hungry children in the country.”
Esti Cohen, Director of the Nir Ha’emek youth village, adds: “These students have undertaken a really important social initiative, inspired by their sensitivity and concern for the country’s children. A society can be strong only where involvement and a sense of mutual obligation are present. We are so proud that our students have the compassion and motivation to help others, to embrace social responsibility and find an outward expression of their beliefs and opinions. These may be small steps, but it is also the only way to advance Israeli and society and humanity. We all feel proud of our students.
“We are also grateful to the women of World WIZO, who teach the meaning of true giving, caring and sensitivity to others, based on a belief that whatever we give is repaid to society by good citizenship. We are proud to have this opportunity to put the WIZO credo into action and to be part of the organization.”
Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, says: “We too are proud of these students, who are educated not only towards achievement, but first and foremost to become fully involved and contribute to society. We take great pride in all our educational institutions, where we see the embodiment of WIZO’s vision and goal to create a just and egalitarian society. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s politicians, economists and intellectuals. Their social involvement is crucial to forming society. It gives us great satisfaction to take part in shaping the face of Israel.”
WIZO Nir Ha’emek youth village is located in the Jezreel Valley region, near Afula. Over 1,000 students attend 7th through 12th grade. Some 200 students are boarders living full time at the village. WIZO Nir Ha’emek is one of the largest schools in the north of Israel and considered a leader in agricultural studies. The village has its own active farm, with cowsheds, a dairy, chicken coops, therapeutic horse stables, an ecological garden and more. The school also offers specialist studies in science and technology. Nir Ha’emek youth village comes under the supervision of the Rural Educational Administration.