The African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) is a grassroots, community-based, non-profit organization that was founded in 2004 by African asylum seekers and Israeli citizens, in order to assist, protect and empower African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. Initially an emergency aid organisation focusing on humanitarian relief, ARDC has expanded its work over the past two years, introducing projects that facilitate integration and independence. To date, the ARDC has served over 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Eritrea, Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast. Since January 2014 alone, the ARDC assisted 1000+ clients on matters relating to visa issues, relocation, refugee status determination, higher education, language courses, tutoring, and psycho-social therapy.
We now provide assistance to approximately 1,500 individuals a year through the following services:
1. Practical Refugee Education Program (PREP)– Limited Hebrew and English language skills keep refugees and asylum seekers from functioning independently in everyday life. Responding to this apparent need, ARDC opened PREP in January 2009. PREP tutors help refugees utilize existing government aid by developing their Hebrew reading, writing and speaking skills, working closely with schools to reinforce class lessons. Meanwhile, our adult language classes offer Hebrew and English at multiple levels. The PREP also gives guidance to aspiring university students through individual tutoring, college application and scholarship advice, as well as TOEFL preparation. All volunteer tutors have a professional background in education and early childhood development.
2. Asylum Application Assistance Project – The application procedure which determines refugee status is long and complex. Few asylum seekers possess the self-representation skills to navigate the system. As a result, an incoherent or incomplete application is often submitted which leads to a denial of claims, deportation and ultimately further abuse, torture or even death. In October 2009 ARDC launched its Asylum Application Assistance (AAA) project as a direct response to both the growing number of asylum seekers entering Israel and the adoption of a new, more complex asylum application review process by the Israeli Ministry of Interior (MoI). The project provides individual counselling and asylum application assistance to over 300 individuals per year. This includes helping claimants to complete necessary documentation, collect supporting evidence, prepare for interviews and present clear, comprehensive arguments as to why they meet the criteria for refugee status.
3. Power to the Community- This project seeks to build bridges between the African immigrants and Israeli citizens of South Tel Aviv through community building and dialogue. This project also seeks to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers by working with the media and coordinating protests and community events on symbolic days of significance (for example, World Refugee Day, the Jewish holiday of Passover, etc.) in order to reduce incidents of discrimination and positively change public attitudes towards the community.