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Successful launch to the new PREP Up Initiative

On Thursday November 12, the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) hosted its first annual PREP Up Back to School Party. The event marked the beginning of our higher education scholarship initiative, PREP Up, and celebrated the launch of PREP Up’s new website. Held at Kuli Alma in Tel Aviv, the fundraising event raised money to go towards our students’ tuition. All had a fantastic time in support of our PREP Up scholars’ higher education goals.

The PREP Up scholarship initiative is the creation of ARDC’s Education Program Manager Emily Primack. The mission of the scholarship program is to provide educational opportunity to refugees so they may better invest in their futures and contribute to civil society, both in their home country and in Israel.

For the first half of the gathering, important donors and partners spoke with ARDC members and PREP Up scholars about the initiative. Many of our educational partners from Israeli and online universities as well as the UNHCR came out to support the students. Attendees were able to hear about each of the five scholars’ studies at university and their plans after they receive their degree. Two of the scholars brought their wives and young children, adding a lighthearted touch to the communal atmosphere.

One of our PREP Up scholars, 21-year-old Usumain Baraka is in his first year at IDC Herzliya studying Government in the Hebrew program. He fled the violence in his home of Darfur at the age of thirteen in hopes of an education. At the fundraiser, Baraka spoke of PREP Up, “Sometimes I’m thinking I don’t have any parents and I’m alone here…that’s not right, …a lot of people (are here to) help me.” After he completes his degree, Baraka would like to return to his home in Darfur (if possible and safe) and help rebuild the country.

Following the student introductions, the Back to School Party opened to the public. Drink vouchers were distributed, of which 35% of the profits contributed to scholarship recipients’ tuition. Overall, the PREP Up Back to School Party was a great success. Attendees were able to hear a personalized story from scholarship recipients pursuing higher education. Additionally, over 150 drink vouchers were sold, raising money for the PREP Up scholars. The nightlife event was an outstanding coming-together of the young Telavivan community and asylum-seeker students.

Halfway through the evening, Primack spoke to the attendees describing the program’s importance. She proved the program’s indispensability by stating, “Education is not a privilege, it is a right.” With the support of the PREP Up scholarship initiative, asylum-seekers are able to gain that right.

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