by Lisa Samin
Atidim is taking the Jewish Agency's Naale program one step further. Teens who came to Israel by themselves, graduated high school and served in the army as lone soldiers now have an opportunity to get a college education. Atidim offers Naale graduates a four-year, full tuition scholarship, living stipend, lap top, and internship at a major company. Meet some of the extraordinary recipients:
Segev Mazovskiy, 25, immigrated from Kiev, Ukraine
Segev Mazovskiy has been in Israel for 10 years without any immediate family. When he was 11, his father, who had taken loans to open a new business, left the house and has not been seen or heard from since. His maternal grandparents, mother, and younger brother emigrated to Germany. But for Segev, Israel was the place where he felt he would have a better future.
At the age of 15 he arrived to the Yemin Orde Youth Village with the Naale program. He quickly learned Hebrew, underwent conversion and flourished in the warm village environment. He went on to serve in one of the army's most elite combat units and then signed up for an additional two years with the professional army. Segev was accepted to the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, where, with the support of Atidim he will study management and industrial engineering. "I chose to make Israel my home," says Segev. "I never felt alone here."
Pablo Schmelz, 23, immigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina
Pablo's family was hard-hit by the 2001/2 economic crisis that crippled Argentina. His father lost his job and the banks lost people's savings. Pablo's parents heard about the Naale program and all the benefits, and decided to send their only son to Israel. Pablo lived on Kibbutz Beit Alpha with other 15-year-old Spanish speaking teens and made aliyah on Israel's Independence Day.
At first, it was difficult for Pablo to be without his parents. But they saw how good the country was for their son, and soon followed him. They settled in Migdal HaEmek, close to Pablo. Pablo served in the army and now, with the support of Atidim, he will study software and management engineering at Ort Braude College. "Israel was wonderful for me. I went from an introverted unsure kid to a confident, mature man. I love the people and the country. And I appreciate the chance Atidim is giving me to study without worrying about money and about future employment. It's like a dream."
Alona Kalenyk, 21, immigrated from Kiev, Ukraine
Alona Kalenyk was sick as a child and at the age of 10 her parents sent her to Kfar Chabad in Israel to get better. When she returned to Kiev she spent two years in public school and then went to Ort's Technological School, where she became active in Jewish life. Her dream was to live in Israel.
She went to Israel on the Naale program and spent three wonderful high school years getting to know the country. When she enlisted in the army she underwent conversion, but was given a low profile due to her earlier illness. Alona did not have a permanent base and was very lonely at times. Today, with the assistance of Atidim, Alona is starting a new phase in her life. "I am going to study electronic engineering at Holon Technological College and I feel very optimistic about my future," says Alona. "With my parents still living in Kiev, I am so grateful to Atidim for easing the way for me."