Thursday, November 13, 2008

Childen Education and Parenting in Haifa

As mentioned in the previous blog, I have been “on the road” with my Taiwanese journalist friend, this time visiting an Early Childhood Education and Parenting Center, part of the Leo Baeck Education Center

Between 1989 and 2007, 69000 new immigrants have settled in Haifa including 3000 from Ethiopia, swelling the population to 270000 and changing the face of Haifa society.

The Early Childhood Education and Parenting Center, Beit Yitzhak was started in response to the needs of the new Ethiopian community but has now widened its outreach to include not only immigrants from the former Soviet Union but also native Israeli families that are underserved in their areas.

It is however, the Ethiopian community whose family structure and social order has gone through the most dramatic of changes. Families were used to an agricultural lifestyle where the father figure was the dominant person and the mother busied herself with the home and the children. Children respected their elders and followed their father’s footsteps. Now in Israel, the former head of the family faces an uncertain future, has difficulty with the language and thus finding work. The mothers usually fare better with the language and are in most families the wage earners.

The children are quickly absorbed into the Israeli culture and learn the language and so become the leaders in the family which creates many tensions.

The manager of the center explained the programs offered and the psychologist informed us why there are issues of trauma in many children. Although the Lebanese war of 2006 finished over two years ago, post traumatic stress disorder (PTST) is only now in some cases being diagnosed. In addition to the war, trauma is also derived from abuse at home and the center offers help to these children.

One of the assistants in the centers was a young, bright, pretty Ethiopian girl who is studying psychology at Haifa University and is gaining practical experience in dealing with the children.

Yet another feature of life in Haifa

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