Who we are
We asylum seekers fled wars, persecution, and violence in our countries. We seek sanctuary in another country and to apply for asylum, a right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. So far, despite years’ working with Israeli attorneys and courts only one applicant was granted asylum status. Today, nearly 40,000 African asylum seekers in Israel face daunting challenges, including poverty, discrimination, human rights violations, scarce resources, and low social status. More than 95% of us lack legal status, and less than 1% attend college.
Our journeys to Israel were harsh, mostly walking through the Sinai desert and subjected to torture, rape, and kidnappings. While returnees risk torture and death in our countries, the Israeli government encourages and pays us to go back to Africa.
Click the video to listen to our stories.
In 2009, Adam Bashar was studying at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya when the African asylum seeker from Sudan-Darfur met Joey Low. An American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Joey had established the NGO “Israel at Heart” to support Ethiopian-Israeli students at IDC. When Adam told Joey of his journey to Israel, Joey immediately thought about own mother who had been a refugee in Europe seeking asylum in many countries. After many years, she immigrated to the USA where Joey was born.
Joey met the Sudan-Darfur community in South Tel Aviv and pledged to provide scholarships for asylum seekers qualified to study. He pioneered the “African Refugee Scholarship Program” for students from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan-Darfur to complete degree programs at IDC. Today, the Scholarship Program helps all African asylum seekers wherever they are studying in Israel. Joey supports our community by advocating for and championing us in the media and public forums. He is our education and empowerment backer, mentor, and booster; in short, Joey is our “angel!”
In 2015, thirteen African asylum-seeking students met to discuss our key needs: tuition scholarships, student visas, and internships following graduation. We also discussed community outreach to increase our number in higher education. In March 2017, we founded and registered the African Students Organization as an NGO in Israel.