Nitzana nd Inbar, Shin-shinim volunteering at Nitzana Eco-Village on their pre-army national service yearThe Jewish Agency for Israel ©, Zuzana Janku

“With their sensitivity, warmth and stories, these boys entered my heart”

"Among its many programs, Nitzana Eco-Village is home to a boarding school for lone Eritrean youth in Israel. What brought them here is a dangerous state of war in their country. They escaped it alone, on foot, without their parents—but experienced many other horrors, like being caught and tortured, before arriving in Israel. Because they are underage and alone, they are brought to the Nitzana setting to rehabilitate. I help them in their classes and in learning Hebrew. I also organize field trips and different holiday activities, stressing co-existence. Our goal is to help them prepare for a mature fuller life - but also help them to regain their childhood which they lost when they began their fight for survival. I never thought I could connect like this to kids—it taught me so much about my own life." 

Nitzan Maromi, a Shin-shin from Misgav, is preparing for a meaningful army service by doing a year of national service at Nitzana Eco-Village. He volunteers in rehabilitation, as a teacher and a 'big brother' to 16 boys, ages 15-18 in the Tikkun Olam progam.

NitzanaPerry Bindelglass

Q&A

What do you do in your free time?

"I work in a nearby communal orchard. Some mornings, when tending to the irrigation, I find tourists or hikers camping at the spot – it is great to see others enjoying it too."

What are you working on now?

"There is a new 'big brother' type project in the works, and we (the Shin-shinim) hope to spend more time with the boarding-school boys outside of Nitzana – taking them to the movies, for example, and home for holidays – different ways of helping them feel more at home."

"It put my life in perspective"

"Here, at Nitzana, in addition to receiving social support from the professional staff, we - the Shin-shinim - also help them integrate into a scholastic setting, which some never got the chance to experience before. The Eritrean boys—with their sensitivity, warmth and stories—entered my heart. It put my life in perspective. When you give them love and support they give back so much more, it's very fulfilling."

A zula overlooking the Negev desert from Nitzana Eco-VillageNitzana