Israel has a high standard of living, but a number of vulnerable population groups are being left behind and live in a state of poverty.
SOS Children has been operating in the city of Arad, caring for children and assisting families, since 1981. Despite our work, many challenges still remain.
In a diverse society, a number of groups remain vulnerable
The city of Arad is located in the South District of Israel, 25 kilometres west of the Dead Sea. It was founded in 1962, and has a diverse population of almost 23,500, made up of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Haredi Jews, Bedouins and immigrants.
In spite of its relative prosperity, Arad is home to a number of vulnerable populations. Haredi men often dedicate their lives to the study of the Torah, and without permanent employment are unable to support their large families. Similarly, the majority of Ethiopian families in the city are living in poverty. Many do not speak or read Hebrew and their chances of gaining employment are greatly reduced. Substance abuse is a common problem among young Ethiopians.
Home to thousands of Bedouins
Around 180,000 Bedouins from the Negev desert call Arad, and its surrounding areas, home. Times have changed for the once semi-nomadic tribe and grazing restrictions and land expropriation, among other things, have forced many Bedouins to relinquish their traditional lifestyle in favour of settling in legal townships.
Nearly half of the Negev Bedouins live in traditional rural settlements that are viewed by the state as illegal. As such, they are not provided with basic services like electricity, water or rubbish collection. Unemployment rates are high; access to healthcare is limited and up to 80% of village residents are living in poverty.
Our work in Arad
33 years of supporting the local community
SOS Children works in co-operation with local authorities and residents to organise various initiatives – for example childcare programmes – that are community-based; organised, operated and managed by the community itself.
SOS Children has spent the past 33 years working with vulnerable children in Arad and continues to expand its efforts today. In 2008, an SOS Social Centre was opened, providing safe, stable, short-term care for children aged between six and 12 years, deemed ‘at-risk’.
In 2011, a Social Centre was opened in nearby Abu Basma to provide support to vulnerable local families. The centre’s primary focus is its family strengthening programme which works with Bedouin, Sudanese and Jewish families providing support and education in the areas of child, woman, family and community development. The centre also offers education and therapy for children from poverty-stricken Bedouin families in Abu Basma.
Loving home for orphaned children
SOS Children has been working in Arad since 1981. Nine SOS families provide loving homes for up to 190 vulnerable children who can no longer be cared for by their parents. Our SOS families provide children with the experience growing up in a family environment with siblings and an affectionate SOS Mother.
Often, children who become part of our SOS families have been through trauma and difficulties. SOS Children provides counselling and psychological support as well as activities designed to nurture creative and social skills, including music, arts, theatre and sports. SOS children have the opportunity to cultivate valuable life skills through tuition, computer and English lessons.
Our youngest SOS children attend local nurseries with children from local families. This enables them to integrate into the community from a young age and make connections with other children in a safe and happy environment.
As the children in our Arad SOS families reach young adulthood, they are able to move out of the family home and begin living under the care of a youth and education counsellor. Our SOS Youth Programme supports young people as they continue their education or vocational training and transition into adulthood.
Vulnerable children in Arad need your support today. When you sponsor a child, you give a young life hope for a bright future.