who we are
we are proud of our achievement
In March 2017, African asylum seekers founded and registered African Students Organization in Israel (ASO) as an Israeli NGO. The organization initiates and manages multiple educational and support projects for a range of ages and specific needs including elementary and high school youth, post-secondary students, and adults seeking vocational training. ASO offers professional development opportunities, scholarships, emergency food and infants’ supplies, as well as management tools for leaders of 22 African communities. Teen Mentor Project is our newest educational project.
Refugees and asylum seekers have fled wars, persecution, and violence in their countries and have sought sanctuary to apply for asylum: the right to be recognized as refugees and receive legal protection and material assistance. Today, nearly 35,000 African asylum seekers in Israel face daunting challenges including poverty, discrimination, and low social status. Israel issues most asylum seekers a 2(a)5 conditional release visa that only grants applicants the right to remain in Israel though deportation orders hang over them. Today, fewer than one percent attend college, and more than 95% lack legal status. The steady insecurity makes finding sustainable employment incredibly difficult, often leading to poverty. An untenable situation for people who have already suffered so much. Meanwhile, children are falling behind in schools that are inadequately prepared and equipped to serve them.
ASO has been challenging some of these harsh circumstances by offering after-school learning for African refugee youth such as Teen Mentor Project, which intends to boost vulnerable students’ confidence and success by modeling positive social behaviors and relationships while challenging them academically with hopes that they may move on to higher education levels. With TMP, African asylum-seeking youth in Israel have guidance to help them realize their vocational and educational dreams.
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.