NITZANA, ISRAEL - All of the 14-to-17-year-old students are orphans, who fled their home countries and crossed the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, in a bid to cross the border into Israel and safe refuge.
Center Director Yair Amir says the center, a "field-school" style cluster of buildings set among tawny rolling hills, offers both immediate relief and a happier future for youths that have endured torture at the hands of Bedouin marauders.
Their captors inflicted electrical shocks, starvation and severe confinement, including day-long hangings on the children, in order to extort money from their families and loved ones.“
In the face of human evil in all it's 'glory,' we offer a warm, supportive program 365 days a year, one which provides psycholigical counseling, and activies that enrich the youth,” Amir says.
Established by The Jewish Agency for Israel in May, 2011, in the wake of a High Court of Justice ruling a year earlier, the center offers vocational training and teaches the students skills that will aid them as adults.
"They are seeds that will bring forth wonderful fruit, and I am very excited about this project" says Karen Kellerman, an educator at Nitzana. "We view this as an excellent example, both for us, and for the world, in how to solve the agonizing issue of child refugees - this is really 'Tikun Olam" (Healing the world)"
A boarding school at Nitzana is a home to more than 50 youths escaping the horrors of war, torture, and famine in Eritrea and SudanJewish Social Action