Last year, the entire world faced a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of countries witnessed a major dip in the economy. Israel experienced its first-ever economic dip since 2002 and according to analysts, it was the worst decline since 1948. This resulted in businesses shutting doors and employees being fired or forced to take unpaid leaves.
However, the pandemic impacted the education industry the hardest as Israel shut the school doors in March last year. The nation switched gears and introduced online learning initiatives for students. But the fact remained that at least at least 2 million Israelis were living below the poverty line at the beginning of 2021.
This means there's a large chunk of the student population that doesn't have access to a computer or stable internet connection. Fortunately, Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry were quick to grasp the situation. Their NGO works towards equal education opportunity for all and offers several programs to troubled youth.
The Vision and Mission
Named after the Edry brothers' father, the Ahinoam Association was established in the year 2018. The NGO was founded to fill in the gaps in the education sector. It also believes in creating equal opportunities for children, teenagers, and at-risk youth in the periphery.
As mentioned before, a huge chunk of the population in Israel is financially challenged. And there are talented students, who are unable to break through the glass ceiling simply because of the financial crunch. When the pandemic struck, and students were left in the lurch, Rafi Edry, Eyal Edry, and Moshe Edree rose to the occasion.
The Edry brothers launched a fundraising initiative when the disaster struck last year, to help students without proper means to continue their education. Eyal Edry had to give up formal education to help his family very early on. Therefore, he understands the value of education and the challenges faced by poor students.
The goal of the Ahinoam Association is to promote equal opportunities for all. The association offers many mentorship and scholarships programs to support at-risk youth in Israel's periphery. It initiated a fundraising campaign last year to enable students to continue learning even during the pandemic.
Equal Opportunity During Corona
Eyal Edry says during the pandemic over 4,00,000 students were completely disconnected and remained at home. That's when Eyal Edry, Moshe Edree, and Refael Edry approached the Ministry of Education to provide a solution.
The Edry brothers suggested the government transfer the power of purchase and budget to school principals to purchase computers, with Ahionam Association sharing PCs with those in need. However, the ministry of education rejected the proposal due to various bureaucratic and political complications.
Despite that, the Ahionam Association managed to fund 30,000 computers for students in the rural periphery. And over the course of the next few months, the organization helped over 4,00,000 students to get a computer and attend their classes.
What Does It Mean for Students?
Before Edry brothers stepped in to help, schools enlisted and lent computers to study online. However, the number of computers was less and thus it didn't help the cause. As such, students started missing out on classes, social interaction with their classmates, and sidelining the importance of education.
The computer donation drive by the Edry brothers brought a semblance of normalcy for poor students during the corona period. Students who felt disconnected from the education system could continue learning. It also helped them stay connected with their classmates through Zoom and other video conferencing tools. Moreover, being able to e-meet their friends also helped the mental well-being of students.
With their computer donation drive, Moshe Edree, Refael Edry, and Eyal Edry were able to gain the attention of the Israeli government. According to the State Controller of Israel report, the Israeli government has approved an adequate budget for over 1,50,000 computers to be donated for the cause.
However, Eyal Edry says that the government lacks the right infrastructure and framework to implement policies. He believes that the baton should be passed on to NGOs like Ahinoam Association to properly implement the policy. These organizations have effective programs and expertise to nurture students but lack funding and reach.
The Edry brothers have shown the path to policymakers and now all it needs is an association between government and non-profit organizations. This will not only change the lives of budding minds in Israel but across the world.