“Access for All” in Israel

by Uzi T.

Uzi T, 63, divorced father of two, was referred to the Access for All program by the Beit Yatziv welfare department in the Be’er Sheva municipality.

I was born on March 23rd, 1948 in Chile, where I grew up, served in the Chilean military and started studying in the university, but never graduated. I immigrated to Israel during the 1970s and here’s where my children were born.

In 2005, I divorced my wife. I was 57 then and had no family in Israel. I suffered from narcolepsy, had no money, was deep in debt and had no job. All these reasons led me to live in the street.

With G-d’s help and the help of two social workers who fought for me, I was accepted to the Beit Nathan homeless shelter. I lived there for seven months until I received a public housing apartment.

During that period I thought a lot about my life – its failures and successes. I realized that all my life I was looking for the bad parts of the human behaviour and the mistakes people do. I realized that if I wanted to receive the good, I must search specifically for it. That year I was also hospitalized because of a heart condition. When I recovered, I saw it as another sign of the fact that I stayed in this world to do good.

I started volunteering at Be’er Sova public kitchen and in Koach Latet, an organization providing home appliances to those in need, where I still work today.

A year ago I got another chance which I never thought I’ll get – to study in the university in the “Introduction to Psychology” course, something I’ve always wanted to learn. I never imagined that at my age, and in my financial situation, I’ll be able to study again. The Access for All program gave me that chance and much more… At AFA, I got not only knowledge, but also new friends, attention, personal treatment and lots and lots of love. 

Federation CJA supports the Access for All program at Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, in which 16 students teach about 300 participants.

Access for All’s goal is to open the doors of Israel’s elite universities and allow them to share their knowledge and resources with disadvantaged populations in Israel. The program invites underprivileged populations to participate in introductory academic courses in various fields such as law, medicine, business, and psychology.

The program’s courses are instructed by outstanding BA students in the later years of their studies who receive academic credit rather than payment for their work. They each teach an introductory course in their field of studies, tailored to the special interests and needs of the program’s participants.

The program seeks to provide participants with knowledge and education, as well as the strength, security and self-confidence required for regaining control over their lives and exiting the cycle of poverty and helplessness. Furthermore, it hopes to encourage them to complete their formal studies, to integrate into the work force and to rehabilitate their lives through their own efforts.

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