Machesah’s Ethiopian Single Family Project is directed by our social worker, Fevin. She is currently working with about 140 Ethiopian families. There have been three waves of immigration from Ethiopia. The first wave came through Sudan in 1980s. More then 4000 people died while going through the wilderness. The second wave came in the 1990s as a result of civil war. The third wave began in 2000.
The immigrants she works with face many difficulties upon coming to Israel. These include the cultural gap, different worldview, limited education and work experience. The state didn’t know how to absorb such a different people. There was also a lack of cooperation from the side of society. People rejected them because they were different. Communication was difficult. They had a hard time functioning in the community. It was difficult in school. There was a lack of respect for the people. Until today, the immigrants do not feel accepted and don’t feel like they belong. They feel marginalized because of their color.
In the 1990s, parents were by themselves and didn’t understand the role of community in Israel. In Ethiopia, the woman stayed home and the husband worked. It is reversed in Israel because women are more easily able to find work and the men stay home, creating crises in the family. In Ethiopia they had support systems, but here, not.
When children were born, they weren’t able to give a sense of belonging to the children. Many families were broken. The children didn’t have support: finances, spiritual, or emotional. So the second generation also suffered. Children were speaking Hebrew and not respectful to their parents. This caused a distortion in the family system. Children took on the role of parents. The third generation now understands their parents’ suffering.
The breakdown of their family system leads to conflict, abuse, divorce and even homicide.
There is a high rate of divorce due to role change and women getting more independent in this society. Women are able to work and support the family. Men return to Ethiopia because they cannot survive here. What you are left with is many single mothers and children. Ethiopian women find themselves in a very difficult situation. They are single parents, working, struggling financially and not feeling like they have a support system in their society.
We would like to share one example
of a single mother that we were able to assist. ‘Vered’ (not real name) tells her story in her own words:
I was born in Ethiopia and came to Israel in 1996.
I am the single mother of four children. Life was difficult with my ex-husband who was violent and abusive. I was forced to divorce. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of time. After divorce, it wasn’t easy for
me to grow four children alone. But God was
looking after me and I received Jesus Messiah .
He opened doors that lightened my way.
All the time I wanted to study and (Machaseh) are messengers of God. You gave me the opportunity to study. You paid my studies for two years while I studied to become a dental assistant. I not only received financial support, but I recieved love and encouragement. I don’t have enough words, but I pray God will bless.