Thanks to your support, this is what ORT UK does.
Having recently returned from visiting World ORT projects in Israel, I’d like to share my thoughts about what I saw. I visited Kiryat Gat, a place that is on the periphery of Israel, outside of the major towns, 45 km away from Gaza and 43 km north of Beersheba - a place in need of investment. Here I saw our after-school programme, YoUniversity, offering children aged 7-11, many from troubled backgrounds, the opportunity to learn about the importance of plants, seeds, soil, water and sustainable agriculture. After receiving a hot lunch as part of the programme, these young people were totally enthused by a remarkable teacher who opened their eyes, minds and hearts to the topic. This course gives the students a chance to learn about a subject that is both vital for the long term sustainability of Israel and food security across the globe.
By 2050, the global population is expected to surpass 9 billion people. Sustainable agriculture and food security is going to remain at the top of the international agenda and World ORT will have provided access for these students to play their part in making that happen. Kiryat Yam is just one of eight locations where we run YoUniversity courses – bringing informal science education to thousands of young people across the country who otherwise would not be able to access such programmes.
A few hours journey north is the Rabin High School in Kiryat Yam, a town that is in-between Haifa and Acco and home to many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, North Africa and Ethiopia.
At the school, one of two that World ORT support in the area, Head Teacher Aviva Cohen explained to me that the school's job is “to teach 1300 pupils to learn; to explore; to listen; to dream; to dare and to achieve.” Thanks to your support this is exactly what is happening. I met with six students aged 14-17 who were able to explain to me (in perfect English) their dreams and aspirations for the future. Lahav who wants to be a NASA scientist studying how the moons orbit affects the environment on earth; Nomi wants to be a neurosurgeon and study at the Technion; Danya wants to teach Maths at University; Matan wants to work for Google; Romi wants to develop science teaching curriculum for students with autism and Alexei wants to be an environmental scientist.
These young people at Rabin High School, many of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds, are with World ORT’s support, going to be the doctors and scientists of the future. Their passion is inspiring as is their single-minded desire to make the world a better place.
These two places are examples of what ORT does around the world, in Israel, the former Soviet Union or Latin America - 300,000 beneficiaries being provided with opportunities often not afforded to their parents or grandparents.
Earlier I wrote that ‘Changing Lives Through Education’ are four simple words. At this time of year the word simple resonates, as it appears in the Haggadah through the simple child, the Tam. It is my belief that we misunderstand the word Tam. Far from simple in the negative sense, the Tam, offers a straightforward clarity and simplicity, trying to help us make the complex understandable. This is why the Tam, the ‘simple’ child asks us, ‘What is this?’ Our response is providing an ORT education that helps students find and explain the answer(s) needed in the 21st century.
Through our schools and programmes we give the possibility of a brighter future and a freedom to our students to choose the career path they want.
As we approach Pesach there can be no greater gift than that.
Adam Overlander-Kaye, Chief Executive - ORT UK