Changing the Lives of Refugees in Israel

My name is Lilah Jaffee. I completed my BA in Religious Studies at the University of Western Ontario and my Master’s in International Affairs at CarletonUniversity. I was at a crossroads in my life; I had a great education but was still unsure of what direction to take my career. I discovered the Career Israel internship program by chance. It looked like an incredible program that would help me find my niche in the “career world,” while also helping to build my resume. Best of all, I would get to be in Israel! I had been on Birthright in 2008 but had never spent a significant amount of time here and Career Israel seemed like the perfect way to do that.

My internship is at the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC). I am a Relocation Resources Case Worker, which essentially means that I assist asylum seekers living in Israel to relocate to other countries where they have family. This has been a truly humbling experience for me. Coming into this internship I didn’t even know that there were African asylum seekers in Israel, let alone that they were in a daily struggle to be recognized as refugees or that their mere existence in Israel would become one of the most contentious subjects in recent headlines.

It’s hard for me to pick just one special experience from ARDC. A moment that sticks out in my mind happened just the other day. Since April, I have been helping a refugee family from Eritrea with their application for sponsorship in Canada (husband, wife and two children). We met yesterday to go over the details of their refugee claim and to ensure that nothing was missing from their application. When we finished, the mother began to tear up and told me how grateful she was for my help. Even though she knows that I have no power over whether their application gets accepted (and the vast majority do not), the fact that I gave her family a chance at a better future was overwhelming for her. The opportunity to be a part of that process and to help this family, even in only a small way, was such a humbling experience for me.

From my internship at the ARDC, I’ve realized that I want to continue to work with refugees when I go back home to Canada. This internship helped me find something that I was excited and passionate about, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Beyond the internship I’ve enjoyed all of the seminars/trips that we’ve gone on with Career Israel, but the one that will stick with me the most is the Masa Israel event on Yom HaZikaron. It was really touching to hear the stories of the families of fallen soldiers. Experiencing Yom HaZikaron in Israel is something I won’t forget.

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2 thoughts on “Changing the Lives of Refugees in Israel

  1. This sounds amazing. As a military spouse myself, I can only imagine the hurt of someone living as a refugee as well as the pain of losing a love d one to war. Our life experiences not only lead the way to our futures but also shape us as individuals. Your internship experience is sure to be a life shaping memory.

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