Argentina's Jewish community is the largest in South America and the seventh largest in the world. ORT educates over 7,300 full and part-time Jewish students in Buenos Aires, or more than 80% of children attending a Jewish high school.
A catastrophic downturn in the country's economy in the early 2000s plunged the Argentinean Jewish Community into a desperate situation. Soaring unemployment and widespread bankruptcies led the government to introduce severe austerity measures, and increasing numbers of families found themselves unable to manage. By the end of the year, a quarter of the Jewish population were living below the poverty line, 1,700 families lost their homes and 20,000 had to accept help from aid organisations.
Amid tough austerity measures which cut down the school’s state-budget, ORT Argentina was forced to provide financial assistance to half of all students attending its schools. In order to cope, it sent out an urgent request for international donors to support 200 of the poorest students, whose fees had to be paid in full.
British ORT provided ORT Argentina with desperately needed support to allow some of its poorest students to continue their education despite the country's economic collapse.
“I study graphic design at an ORT technical college. My family was not always poor. We live in a large flat, but it is now in a terrible state of repair, heavily mortgaged and up for sale. My father has a real estate business, but has had to get rid of his staff and is facing bankruptcy. My mother has Alzheimers, and needs 24 hour care. I try to help my family by working part time.” Sandra - Student, ORT Argentina