Ten dental assistants from India and Peru graduate from Shavei program at Hadassah

Ten dental assistants from India and Peru graduate from Shavei program at Hadassah

Hadassah Dental School graduates from India and Peru (with Efrat Kedem, left)

Hadassah Dental School graduates from India and Peru (with Efrat Kedem, left)

It was a modest ceremony for a modest group, in numbers, demeanor and dress. But the graduation of ten students from the Hadassah Dental School in Jerusalem on December 31, 2013, as part of a program sponsored by Shavei Israel, will make much more than a modest impact on the lives of Israel’s newest dental assistants.

Shavei Israel has been running the program since 2008, enabling a total of 34 young women from the Bnei Menashe of northeastern India and the Bnei Moshe of Peru, all of whom have made aliyah with Shavei Israel’s help, to train for in-demand new careers, in many cases pulling their families out of poverty in the process. How in-demand are these jobs? “Every one of the ten students who graduated last week is already working,” says Dr. Efrat Kedem, who runs the program for Shavei Israel. “Those jobs might be in a private dental clinic or as part of Israel’s national kupat cholim (HMO) system. In either case, dentists are waiting for our graduates!”

We’ve told you about several of these students previously. Rivka Fanai, 24, from the Bnei Menashe had been living in the northern Galilee assembling electrical circuits in a hi-tech plant to support her disabled mother and family. Naomi Orkisa, 31, came from Peru and had been working on a mushroom farm near Jerusalem while raising her 5-year-old child on her own. Ilana Shaporker, 38, immigrated to Israel from India in 2010; her husband has had to hold down two jobs, working late into the night, to allow the family, including their 7-year-old son, to make ends meet.

Rivka, Naomi and Ilana are joined by Sarit Bartera, Tamar Dayan, Bat-Chen Itzhak, Rivka Menashe, Aviva Nachmani, Nirit Pachuau, and Bat-Sheva Sektak – all of whom have a brighter future thanks to you, our supporters. With your assistance, we have helped many of these students with the cost of the program – including $3,000 for tuition – plus living expenses, since the students cannot work full-time while studying.

A previous graduate, Yael Hangshing, from the Bnei Menashe, is now hoping to enroll in the Hadassah program to train full fledged dental hygienists. She is already working as a dental assistant but, with two small children, she cannot afford to quit her job to study full time, as the hygienist program requires. We’ve written before about Yael. Your can make your contribution to her professional success by visiting our Support page.

Special thanks go to Kedem, who initiated the program with the support of Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund nearly ten years ago. Together with Gershon Goldman, who heads the department of social welfare in one of the communities where many of the young women live, Kedem handpicked the students to participate. Kedem readied them for their entrance exams, then assisted the students throughout the three-day-a-week, year-and-a-half long training. She coordinated extra tutoring when necessary and took on general responsibility for the students’ personal needs.

“It makes for a huge difference for these women. They are now able to do something much more meaningful with their lives than the simple work they were doing before,” Kedem says. “They are received with open arms everywhere.

The next dental assistant program at Hadassah is already in full swing. Five students, four from the Bnei Menashe and one from Peru, are studying with Shavei Israel’s support. Won’t you consider making a donation to help our promising dental students? There can be no greater satisfaction than helping a needy student obtain the practical tools required to improve her skills, to become truly self-sufficient, and to serve as a role model for her family and other members of her community.

Please click here and make your contribution today.

Here are a couple of pictures from the graduation:

Ilana Shaporker and Efrat Kedem

Ilana Shaporker and Efrat Kedem

The full group

The full group with Dr. Efrat Kedem and course coordinator on behalf of Hadassah Edna Zioni