In late 2019, Hadassah Australia teamed up with the United Israel Appeal (UIA-Keren Hayesod) to support a ground-breaking program aimed at helping Israel’s marginalised Ethiopian community.  The initiative will provide scholarships for Ethiopian-Israeli students to study at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah - Hebrew University School of Nursing.

The Hadassah Ethiopian Nursing Scholarship Program known as Achotenu (‘Our Nurses’), provides an alternative pathway to university entrance.

Working with the Israeli not-for-profit La’Ofek (formerly JobKatif) and the Hebrew University, Achotenu is providing an innovative pathway for Ethiopian students to gain a full academic degree in nursing by addressing the built-in bias in university psychometric examinations.

Sixty-seven Ethiopian Israeli students are now in various stages of their undergraduate studies and will enter the workforce progressively from 2021. This will help to address a critical shortage of academically-qualified nurses in Israel.

The Ethiopian community in Israel continue to lag behind the general Jewish population in almost all socioeconomic indicators.

Judy Lowy, a native of Britain who has been a driving force behind La’Ofek together with Rabbi Yosef Rimon, sent Hadassah Australia an update on the progress of the Ethiopian students who are studying at Hadassah.

“We are grateful for your support, partnership and friendship and hope that you are all staying healthy. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted everyone, including the Achotenu program. 

The students completed their winter semester and exams. The start of the new semester was delayed. Most students returned home to help shepherd their families through these difficult and complicated times. The university just commenced remote learning, but needs to resolve some technical issues before it is fully underway.

Many of the students, unfortunately, are not in suitable learning environments; their homes are small and crowded without private study space.  Some do not have WiFi and a number are without laptops. Our program director is maintaining phone contact with the students, and continues to remain updated on any and all issues, be they academic or personal.

Expenses remain at the same level, as we continue to pay for scholarships, dorms and living subsidies. Government funding is not yet coming through; but this is due to the fact that we do not yet have a government in place, rather than being the result of the corona crisis. 

What is deeply impacting us at this time is the revenue stream from private donations.  Many donors are currently unemployed, others have reduced income, and with all the uncertainty in the marketplace, we are suffering from depressed levels of giving.

Our administrative, management and fundraising teams are working remotely. We firmly believe that at some point we will be past this crisis, and be able to rebuild, learn and grow from this experience. We are a resilient organisation, living in a resilient country and have the privilege of working with a resilient sector of Israeli society.

We wish you good health and hope that all of us can emerge from this crisis stronger and improved in every way.”

NB: If you would like to help us purchase laptops for Ethiopian nursing students impacted by COVID-19, please donate here.

If you would like to learn more about the impact these nursing scholarships are making in the lives of young Ethiopian Israelis, please contact Eric Cheng in Melbourne or Rosemary Carrick in Sydney, for further details.