The Jaffa Institute, which assists Jaffa’s disadvantaged children and their families, held its annual gala on Sunday night to fund-raise for the organization.

The event, which took place near Ben-Gurion Airport, included some 900 attendees from different areas of business in Israel and abroad as well as representatives from NGOs which the institute works with.

“Our efforts are directed towards those children from slum communities to make sure that they don’t drop out of school, that they don’t get in trouble,” director of the institute, Dr. David Portowicz, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “We want to relieve pressure from the child and direct his attention to things that will help him have a better future.”

He explained that instead of focusing on one specific area of the child’s life, like many organization do, his NGO deals with all aspects ranging from health and nutrition to education.

“I think our greatest strength is that we are not focused,” Portowicz said, “We the child as a whole. You can’t just provide food, or just provide help with school. It’s not enough. What good is it if the child is helped at school but then goes home to poverty and hunger. You need to address all issues otherwise, the child is left behind.”

“I'd rather do a bit of everything than nothing at all. We hold their hand until they are ready to stand on their own two feet,” he continued.

Children who take part in the Jaffa Institute often come from homes where siblings have dropped out of the education system, Portowicz explained.

“All they see are negative example and lack examples of what is necessary to function as good adults,” he said.

Among the children’s programs, some are also dedicated to empowering their parents.

These assist them with vocational training courses and help finding a job as unemployment is, the Institute says on its website, a long term factor contributing to child poverty.

Today, some of the graduates of the Institute who hold college degrees have gone on to work at the different programs that the organization operates, which Portowicz said, gives hope to children enrolled in them: “They see the graduates and they think, well if they grew up and made it, so can we.”

Popular children’s television host Oded Menashe, who spoke at the gala on Sunday night, said he was deeply touched by the Jaffa Institute’s activity when he visited the Neve Ofer House, one of the NGO’s residential facilities for children who were removed from their homes due to parental incarceration, parental neglect, or abuse: “One boy clung to me and when I looked deep into his eyes I saw the sadness of a child without parents. I found it so hard to let go. I understood at that moment that by giving to those that need help, your own universe expands,” Menashe told the crowd.

At the event, the Institute’s guests of honor were awarded for their contributions to the cause. Dr. Tzipi and Adi Strauss, long time partners of the organization as well as Beryl and Neil Davis, who have fundraised for the cause in England by establishing the British Friends of The Jaffa Institute, received the “Yedid Nefesh” award.

Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, which made a generous gift to the Institute this year was awarded with the Social Partner award.

As they did in previous years, the Institute succeeded in raising some NIS 1.5 million on Sunday night.

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