Yuri, age 15Posted on
Many of the staff can still remember the day Yuri first appeared at the Jaffa Institute. He stood in the doorway, nervous and tentative, trying to work up the courage to enter the building.
Yuri and his family were new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, struggling to adapt and survive in their new Jaffa neighborhood. Adjustment to their new country was proving to be difficult and frustrating. Yuri’s father still had not found a job. Yuri’s mother was struggling to feed her family on the small amount of government assistance they were receiving due to their new immigrant status. The family was economically disadvantaged and isolated by barriers of language and culture.
Yuri had heard that there was a place in Jaffa where he could go to learn Hebrew, get help with his school homework, meet other immigrant children, make new friends and, perhaps most importantly, enjoy a nutritious hot lunch free of charge. Yuri had been told that he could even receive free dental care at this friendly place.
Yuri began to attend the Moadoniot/ After School Enrichment Program, which offered a wide array of educational enrichment and recreational programs to Jaffa’s disadvantaged children. Venturing timidly into the Computer Center, Yuri soon discovered that he possessed a raw talent for computers. Yuri received emotional support and encouragement from the Institute staff — particularly from Danny Ravid, who saw a lot of potential in the shy young boy.
Perhaps that is why Danny was not really surprised when Yuri asked him a year later if he could become a counselor for children using the Computer Center. Danny happily agreed, and Yuri became a counselor, a coach, and a teacher to the younger children – children a lot like Yuri was when he first arrived at the Institute.
As Yuri improved his technical skills in computers he also developed his self confidence and self-esteem, along with fine leadership skills. Today, Yuri is a responsible youth leader in the Moadonit, and is pursuing advanced computer studies in high school.