Nishmat presents a unique approach to the advancement of Ethiopian women in Israel. Over the course of a period of one year, alongside Jewish studies, participants receive complete support and are provided with tools for their personal and professional advancement, enabling them to succeed in academic studies. The participants, who come from families in low socio-economic situations, would not have been able to allow themselves to continue on to higher education without this aid and support.
The “Maayan Program” at Nishmat is considered one of the best initiatives for Ethiopian women, especially in light of the statistic that approximately 90% of the program’s graduates continue on to higher education and academic professional training (for example, teachers, lawyers, social workers and occupational therapists).
The program has a pre-academic course which prepares Ethiopian women for higher education, as well as the “Shiluv” course for new Ethiopian immigrants. With the approval of the Ministry of Education, “Shiluv” students are accepted to Jerusalem colleges under more lenient conditions, while for those four years, for all intents and purposes Nishmat becomes their home and family – through free residence, maintenance stipends and specifically through academic and social support to ensure their academic success.
The “Maayan Program” at Nishmat is supported by foundations and private people who have come forward to act for the advancement of Ethiopians in Israel, including the Weinberg Foundation, the Friendship Foundation, Rocklin Foundation, PEF, Glencor Foundation, and the Associations of Friends of Nishmat in the United States and Canada.
72% of Ethiopian children in Israel live below the poverty line and the high school dropout rate is double that of the Israeli average. Despite these regrettable statistics, graduates of Nishmat’s “Maayan Program” succeeded in graduating or are presently studying in the following frameworks: Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University including the Bar Ilan Law School, Ariel College, Shaarei Mishpat College, Efrata College, The Emunah College of the Arts, Shaare Zedek and Laniado Hospital Nursing Schools, Michlala Jerusalem College for Women, Jerusalem School of Technology (“Machon Tal”) and David Yellin College.
The program is intended for Ethiopian women who have finished their national or army service and find themselves at an important junction in their lives. The 36 special advancement program participants come from large families (between 7 and 13 people per average family), who subsist on welfare and in most cases at least one parent is unemployed. Alongside guidance and training, the program provides participants with housing, food and a monthly stipend for travel as well as other current expenses. Additionally, there is a foundation through which graduates are eligible to apply for an emergency interest free loan, and special grants are available when necessary. The program includes social counseling and assistance, the possibility of improving matriculation scores, preparation for the psychometric exam, weekly workshops providing learning tools and basic life skills (computer applications, family budget management, time management, coping with violence against women, etc.), as well as private tutoring in specific areas.