"It was only when I went into the girls' club in Kseife that I finally found myself! I was made for work with teens and art. It suits me much better than being a nurse or a teacher", Hawla Abu Arar, a twenty-five year old woman from Kseife, excitedly told us.
Hawla is the employment coordinator in the new program we recently began in the Kseife girls club - born in Arara in the Negev and currently living in Kseife.
Hawla decided to fulfill the dream her parents had for her and went to study nursing in Jordan for two years.
During her second year of studies, she felt it was not her real dream and, in fact, that she didn't even know how to dream. She left her studies and began studying teaching at the Open University but didn't feel that she was fulfilling herself in this domain either. Today she is an art student, in her first year at Kay College, and works with at-risk girls in the Kseife girls club that opened six years ago. The club operates three times a week, between three and six p.m., and is attended by some 45 girls. Hawla was recently appointed to coordinate the employment project in the club.
The project is part of the Division for Welfare and Social Resilience's new program that is getting into high gear in partnership with National Insurance. The partnership's high point is the at-risk youth clubs in Kseife and Yeruham: Atid Batu'ach [an insured future] – an employment readiness program operating in at-risk youth clubs. A professionally run and enriching program, it provides intensive accompaniment for youths aged 16 – 18 and prepares them for future employment.
The program, which has a five-year long-term plan, provides at-risk boys and girls with the many tools they desperately need in order to overcome structural and social impediments and adds to their skills so that they can be capable of successfully integrating into society in general, through employment, specifically.
Various topics are taught: technology and sciences, life skills, preparation for higher education, emotional treatment and so on. The study program includes CV writing workshops and tutoring in various subjects. In addition to courses in basic computer applications, the program offers courses that are in high demand and that provide graduating students with certification as Cisco and Microsoft computer technicians, and in website construction and cellular phone repair, as well as a Magen David Adom course in First Aid. This is just a first glimpse of the project, a pilot project that is to be implemented in additional cities. The Kseife club, where Kseife girls who spend their afternoons, offers jewelry and photography workshop, as well as Hebrew language lessons.
"During my work at the youth club, I hear many personal stories from the girls about their personal distress. They tell of the difficulties of living in a traditional society – the hardships involved in getting out of the house, the tensions that result from living in a home with children from different women and the same father, the difficulty in being part of a society where women's rights are limited in employment as well, and where the principle expectations of girls are to complete high school and marry. These girls find it hard to speak of their hardships, especially as adolescents given to physical and emotional developmental changes and to low self-confidence."
"We were simply in shock from the huge response to the Atid Batu'ach application process. Girls who do not usually participate in the club's activities also came." Hawla tells us next of the town's changed attitude towards the Bait Ham youth club: "What I found moving was the fact that parents who were once passive and disliked the girls' involvement in the club's activities - considering it to be a waste of time at the expense of housework. These same parents called and came to the club; they insisted that their daughters join the project." The project is now considered to be prestigious and ground-breaking in all that concerns work with girls in Kseife.
"The project shows them how important they are to us and how much we believe in them and want to invest in them." Hawla ends by saying that the opening of the Bait Ham program is a new and exciting time. And we too, at the Division for Welfare and Social Resilience await the many new developments expected for the girls.