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Make me Happy with Coffee (or tea), Wi-Fi and a little Love

May 07, 2018

In today’s interactive visit we were exposed to four different programs supported by the At-risk Youth Division of the Jerusalem municipality.


Kidum Noar (the Coffee Shop) captured the essence of what a well thought through and well executed program that aims to reintegrate young people who may have fallen by the wayside ought to look like.


Who knew a good cup of coffee served on the street could be the pebble that can cause so many ripple effects in a person’s life? The concept of meeting young people at their level and in their comfort zone took on a very enriching meaning when we visited this establishment. Contrary to this organization, so many of us believe that the professional cloaks we wear are what makes the difference in our work and in young people’s lives. Their modus operandi is to meet the young people on a human to human level; which is a first step to establishing a good working relationship and earning their trust.


An additional method that should be emulated by anyone who works with the Digital natives (the young people) is to meet them in their safe zone: Virtual Space. Yafit, from the social media department showed us how they (the professionals in this department) make use of social networks to engage young people who are at risk and are therefore able to provide services in the young people’s own contexts. The fact that our young people are more at home in virtual space than in the concrete society cannot be ignored.


 

Next we headed to the ‘Open House’ a House where sexual diversity is embraced, and Pride and Tolerance are the core values. Being sexually diverse at a young age is another characteristic that may place some of our young people at risk of facing rejection, hostility and violence. It was encouraging to see that even youth who have different sexual orientation (compared to social norms) can have a safe place where they can access Health and social services while they reflect and introspect on their sexual preferences and identity. It is important to cultivate tolerance towards others who are different from the majority and be able to treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserve as individuals.

The last but certainly not the least project we encountered involved the municipality itself offering an entry point for youth at risk by providing employment opportunities. This also entailed the provision of services that these young people are in need of by engaging a multi-sectoral network. What was most fascinating and certainly admirable, was that throughout the process of gradually reintegrating the young people back into mainstream communities (as opposed to being on the periphery) the manager extended a comforting hand of support and an ear to listen. Oftentimes this empathy and fostering a sense of belonging is a crucial ingredient in facilitating reintegration of youth at risk into community.

 

Our day ended off with a stimulating appointment at a Café, whereby dilemmas were being served hot off the menu, by a most Charming waiter named Sebastien. The ambiance was excellent and the food very well prepared. Only, the food was for the brain and not for the tummy. This approach to engaging the group in thought processes requiring team work, analytical and critical thinking, and planning and decision making is one that could work in professional development with educators, management meetings and even in classwork. This exercise allowed us to consolidate what we have been learning during the past two weeks. We really blew out Blooms taxonomy today!!

A blog by Tula Ram Bishwas, Nepal; Nathalie Malvina, Seychelles and Christel Menette, Namibia