February 12, 2007 / 24 Shevat 5767
“I need every shekel I can get. Not only do I have to pay my tuition fees and support myself, but my parents have never really acclimated to Israel since arriving from Ethiopia. Both of them are unemployed and the welfare payments they get from the government are not enough to survive on. I try to help them financially as much as possible, although I cannot afford to give them very much.”
Adana Nekoya reached Israel from the Ethiopian province of Gondar during Operation Solomon in 1991. Unlike the older generation of immigrants, the 27-year-old student has made the transformation from pre-industrial, rural Africa to high-tech Israel with remarkable success.
In part, this is thanks to three years at a Jewish Agency Youth Aliyah residential school where Adana excelled academically. Today he is a second year law student at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion.
“The tuition is very expensive and that means I have to put in as many hours of work as I can to help support myself and my family,” says Nekoya. “I work as a bodyguard for a very senior public official. Getting an emergency call to serve in the army messed up my plans for earning money in the summer.”
This past July and August Adana spent 33 days with his infantry unit. They were spared the horrors of Lebanon, but nevertheless had a tough assignment patrolling the alleyways of the West Bank city of Jenin.
“As an Ethiopian immigrant I am highly motivated,” he explains. “I always feel I have to try harder than everybody else to prove that I am just as good as other Israelis. This scholarship from the Jewish Agency gives me even more motivation. Getting the highest possible marks in my studies will be my way of paying back the Jews around the world who have given me this important gift.”