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Mixed City’s Teens Fighting Despair

A cohort of teens from Ramla recently completed a leadership course and want to inspire the city’s youth.

Last May, the mixed city of Ramla was rocked by violent, inter-community riots. Tensions in the already fragile intertwined communities boiled over, with extremists attacking people, cars and buses, and setting fire to homes and businesses. As they dealt with the aftermath of the destruction, many local residents sunk into despair. It became harder and harder, especially for the city’s youth, to imagine a brighter future in the largely low-income underserved, complicated city.

Despite these difficult circumstances, a group of the city’s teens have chosen to participate in a leadership training course to become counselors for younger children in the youth movement. Fighting against despair and hopelessness, thirteen boys and girls from the Ramla branch of the HaNoar HaOved youth movement took part in the course in order to gain tools to be leaders and role models in their community. Amid the backdrop of ongoing tensions and friction, the teens want to have a positive impact on their community and to inspire other youth to do the same.

Ramla's new cohort of youth leaders

The youth movement associated with Dror Israel – HaNoar HaOved – is the most diverse youth movement in Israel, operating in over 200 localities with all of Israel’s population groups – olim and veteran Israelis; Jews and Arabs; Christians, Muslims, Druze and Circassians; cities and rural areas; etc. In HaNoar HaOved, Israel’s future generation solidifies their values, meets other Israelis of all kinds, and learns to lead – both by teens serving as counselors for younger kids in their communities, and by participation in national campaigns and events addressing issues important to them.

The teens from Ramla travelled together to the youth movement’s seminar in order to meet friends from other cities, gain hands-on training experience, and receive a counselor’s certificate. With peers from around the country, they discussed the importance of choosing to educate even in difficult times.

"It may sound dramatic, but to me, what you're choosing to do, fun as it may be, is a task of national importance," the Ramla branch’s director told the teens.

Their goal is to start mentoring the children of Ramla’s elementary schools and invite them to afterschool programming in the local branch of HaNoar HaOved. The branch’s programming encourages social responsibility and community involvement. The teens hope to be able to give other kids hope that they can change their mixed city for the better.

"I think that whoever chooses to educate children in a time like this is a leader, because it is a choice to take responsibility for the kids in a period that is very difficult for them," said one of the teens in the closing ceremony of the training course, which was also attended by local officials.

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