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The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, the country’s only higher education institution offering a full English curriculum for undergraduate studies, is also home to five African refugee students. Their fellow students have now come together to organize a sports event to help fund the refugees’ tuition.
The five, who come from Eritrea, Somalia and other parts of Africa, arrived in Israel fleeing armed conflict, civil war and persecution, and without any knowledge of Hebrew. Seeking higher education and with a working knowledge of English, they opted to study at IDC; but without financial means, this is a near-impossibility.
Though the IDC offers the refugee students a 50-percent discount on tuition, the remaining fee of $4,500 is still too much for most to bear; added to that is the penalty of losing the discount if tuition is not paid within the year.
So Alex Flint, a third-year student in the International school’s government program, decided to organize a sports tournament to raise funds for the school’s refugee students. Flint, an oleh who grew up in Columbia, said Wednesday that both the students and the school have been very supportive of the cause. A hundred students, from both the International as well as the Israeli school, have signed up to participate in the event, each paying NIS 20 for the privilege.
However, this money, as well as money to be raised from selling food at
the event, will provide only a fraction of the remaining tuition cost
for just one refugee student.
The tournament will take place this Friday at 9 a.m. at the Herzliya Sportek complex.
The event is being held in conjunction with the African Refugee
Development Center, a non-profit organization founded in 2004 by
refugees and Israeli citizens to assist, support and empower refugees
and asylum-seekers in Israel. According to Joanna Mantello, program
manager at the ARDC, a sixth refugee student began the year at IDC, but
had to drop out. The ARDC has helped refugee students with their
entrance exams and recommendations, and matched them up with donors
willing to provide funding for their tuition.
According to the ARDC, there are currently an estimated 20,000 refugees
and asylum-seekers in Israel who have fled armed conflict, civil war
and fear of persecution in countries such as Eritrea, Sudan, Democratic
Republic of the Congo and the Ivory Coast.