They are fifteen, they are between 18 and 20 years old. Their common point: they are all former children of Negba. Last week this first nucleus of “Bogrim” (elders) met for an evening in the “Caty and Mona Dreyfuss” Negba Home.
This project has been on the minds of the Negba team for a long time: creating a group of alumni! Hanna Geissmann, the association’s Chief Executive, tells us that “even if contact with the association’s children is never completely broken, some are more or less disappearing from the landscape. It is important for us to maintain this bond, so that we can continue to support them even when they are adults.”
This first meeting is the fruit of a long process carried out by the current team of the Teenagers Club and their predecessors. Elad, the project manager, is really satisfied with this first evening: “There was such a good atmosphere, they were really happy to see each other again. Although some have remained close since childhood, others had lost touch with each other over the years. Being in Negba really had a special flavor.”
Rotem, coordinator of the Teen Club for several years, knew these young people when they were 13 or 14 years old. She was the one who helped establish the contact: “When Elad contacted me to tell me about the project, I was immediately very enthusiastic, I miss these little ones so much! When we started talking about it, I knew immediately what ‘class’ to start with. This small group has always been very cohesive, very attached also to Negba. The ideal nucleus, to have a good basis for a larger project.”
This is how the “Elders” project started with this meeting last week. The young people were also surprised to find their former animators there as well. Noï for example, who now combines university studies and family life, “wouldn’t have missed this meeting for nothing. It’s amazing, they’ve grown up and matured so much, they’re adults now. We can envision their future with more optimism, they can be proud of themselves.” We too are proud of them, most of them are currently doing their military service with Tsahal, a must for Israeli youth before considering higher education. For Hanna Geissmann, performing their service is already an important step in their lives: “The fact that these young people join the army already proves that they have managed to reach the age of incorporation without any particular problem of justice, which is unfortunately not often the case in certain areas of the city. On the other hand, by doing their service, they begin to realize their importance in Israeli society, which they in turn can help. They are well on their way to becoming independent and responsible adults.”
However, there is still a long way to go and sometimes strewn with obstacles. Odaya, 20, who studies Communication at the Open University of Beer-Sheva, while doing her service in the Tsahal spokesperson unit, says: “It’s really not easy, studying, service, life in general. It’s really comforting to know that others care about us. Some need help with administrative procedures, others with advice on choosing their studies or entering the job market. Like when we were children, Negba was there to help us make our way…”
This is indeed one of the aims of this “Elders” project. The next meetings, already planned, and planned to welcome more and more alumni, will be preceded by individual interviews to define better what Negba can bring to each (or what each can bring to Negba by the way). In any case, these young adults know that Negba, and in particular Elad and his team, are there more than ever to support them and help them build their future.