July 3, 2008 / 30 Sivan 5768
Talking about his future college plans in Ashkelon, Legese Belete is so calm and confident that you would never know how hard he's been working since arriving in Israel just two years ago.
In 2006, Legese Belete, 22, left his village in the Gondar region of Ethiopia with his parents, 4 siblings and eight other families. With high hopes for their future, the family arrived at the Jewish Agency’s Barnea Absorption Center in Beersheva. Despite their exposure to the terror threats that barrage life in southern Israel, Legese and his family were not discouraged. “We heard so many good things about Israel,” says Legeste. “I am glad to finally be here.”
Legese, who was too old to be integrated into Israel's formal education system, was recommended for the Jewish Agency’s Kedma program. Kedma is a Hebrew acronym for Promoting Personal Readiness; in both Amharic and Hebrew, the word itself means progression and advancement. Designed for Ethiopian young adults aged 17-25, Kedma offers a comprehensive approach to integration through education. It helps prepare young Ethiopian immigrants for employment and higher education opportunities through practical and academic training in specialized fields according to individual interests.
“Now I’m continuing in Kedma Bet where I am completing my general education at Ashkelon College, and then I want to go on to study physics and math,” says Legeste. “I plan to go to university, like my older brother.” In addition to his studies, Legese and the other Kedma Bet participants engage in enrichment and cultural activities, field trips, hikes, and social activities.
Nothing seems to stand in the way of Legese's future, including the looking security situation in Israel's south. “I like studying at Ashkelon College and Barnea is a good place,” he counters in his low-key manner.
Upon completing his matriculation exams, Legese is entitled to a three-year Jewish Agency supported Student Authority scholarship that covers the tuition costs of a one year pre-academic program and freshman and sophomore years of college.
The Jewish Agency operates a range of educational and enrichment programs that advance Ethiopian immigrants in Israeli society. Click here to learn more about Jewish Agency educational programs like Kedma that provide educational assistance for Ethiopian immigrants. To donate, click here.