31 Ethiopian immigrant children started grade one with confidence this year, thanks to YEDID´s MILIM program.
MILIM is YEDID’s jump start program for Ethiopian kindergarten children, which provides the children and their parents with the academic, social and cultural support to successfully make the transition to the first grade and keep up with their peers. If early intervention is not taken, they risk becoming permanently left behind.
Over the course of the past year, 31 children took part in the program in Tzfat, making great strides in their academic and social progress! Because of the comfortable, familiar atmosphere created by the staff, students were excited to learn and eager to share their ideas and knowledge with the class. Within two months of the start of the program, the children could identify letters in their own names, something they couldn't do before the program began. They learned basic concepts such as shapes and opposites, as well as the importance of hygiene and the significance of the Jewish holidays.
Meseret, who is six years old, has lived in the absorption center for eight months. His name means full moon because he was born on a full moon. Meseret always looked forward to coming to MILIM – often arriving before the teachers -- participated fully in all the activities, and followed directions attentively. Meseret’s mother also appreciated the significance of the program, attending parent-teacher conferences and ensuring Mesert behaved properly.
Yehudit Polovian, MILIM teacher, remarks “these children showed a great desire to learn new things. Their impressive progress was evident throughout the year, as they gained more and more knowledge, skills, and confidence.”
At the beginning of the year, the children faced numerous challenges. Many were not fully proficient in Hebrew. A large number of the families had only recently arrived in Israel and were experiencing huge cultural transitions. Most of the children arrived at the project not knowing how to hold a pencil or draw a line, and made great advancements in their fine motor skills. Program staff helped the new immigrants by working them in small groups, where one Hebrew speaking child would join to help the others by translating instructions into Amharic.
Project coordinator Odelia Yaakov says, “When I hear them identify letters and numbers, I smile knowing that at the beginning of the year they didn't know any letters and couldn't connect a concept to its meaning. They are proud to show everyone they got the answer right, and for me that is everything."
MILIM was generously funded by the UJIA of Great Britain and the Jack Chester Foundation