Hagar & Miriam
African Israeli Women in Friendship and Motherhood
15% of the refugee and asylum seeker population in Israel today are young women between the ages of 15 and 35. The journey which the women made to Israel is long and arduous. They often pay smugglers to aid them in the journey, and often become dependent on these smugglers. They lose their freedom and are treated as commodities, transferred from hand to hand until their arrival to Israel. In many cases the women are injured and / or raped on the way at the hands of the smugglers.
The women arrive alone to a country whose culture is totally different from their own, where the language is foreign and unclear to them and where they lack female and family support. The women need to make a living, often with no formal work permit, pay rent for shelter, and look after at least one baby. The younger among them arrive not only with nothing but also with no knowledge of monitoring a pregnancy, giving birth or motherhood in their country, let alone in Israel.
Hagar and Miriam is a project that was set up for African asylum seeker and refugee women in Israel who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. The project allows these women to cope with their pregnancy and transition to motherhood in light of the difficulties of moving to a foreign country where they don't know the local language and where they have to find a way to support themselves while they acclimatise to the local culture.
They require institutional and community support, and in the absence of this support, we can assist them in receiving health services in the community and understand their medical, emotional and legal rights as long as they reside here. We believe that it is our responsibility, as women and citizens of Israel, to support these women and strengthen them in this special, exciting and demanding period of pregnancy, birth and raising children.
Personal and group support for the woman during the pregnancy, birth and beyond
Consulting, training and support for the families
Providing knowledge and information to the mother
Changing perceptions regarding sex and health
Empowering the women refugees
Founding of a treatment-support center
Project Aims and Future Goals
As part of this support system our aim is to set up a women's center in south Tel Aviv that will constitute a meeting place for both Israeli and African women. At the center the women will feel comfortable to help change the current situation, to advance cultural goals and to help friends who are in the same situation they were in until recently – they can assist with the training, accompaniment and support that we currently provide.
We believe that if the women do not receive the support they require, they and their children will become a burden on Israeli society. Most of the women who arrive in Israel are young and strong, have overcome many obstacles on their arduous journey, and have a lot to offer. These women can contribute to the development of Israeli society, both as a strong workforce and from a humanitarian aspect.
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