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Nathan was referred into the care of the WIZO Nir Ha’Emek Youth Village by the welfare authorities. At the tender age of thirteen, he witnessed the shocking and sudden death of his father from alcoholic poisoning.

Nathan, of Ethiopian descent, has many brothers and sisters and the family lives on welfare benefits.

Prior to coming to Nir Ha’Emek Youth Village, Nathan rarely attended school. His father was often in a drunken stupor and Nathan regularly missed school to help his mother take care of his younger brothers and baby sister. His education suffered and his emotional well-being was severely impacted.

Nathan quickly settled in at WIZO Nir Ha’Emek with the help of professional counselling staff and a structured program of tutoring to bridge his educational shortcomings. He responded well to the supportive environment of the youth village and the warmth and compassion of his dormitory housemother. For the first time in his life, Nathan felt that he had space to breathe, to study and to enjoy a positive quality of life. Over time, the gaps in his education closed and he started to show great aptitude in computer studies.

Nathan passed his matriculation exams and enlisted into the army, volunteering in the Oketz Unit (Canine Special Forces). He took part in many highly successful operations and was awarded the Outstanding Presidential Award for Soldiers in 2014 by the President of the State of Israel. During his IDF service, he was sent on a prestigious course for cyber and data protection, and went on to serve as a liaison officer in the Israeli Air Force.

Nathan is now studying for his first degree, which is financed by donations from WIZO supporters.

Nathan often visits the Nir Ha’Emek Youth Village, sharing his story with students living in the dormitories.

Nathan says, as he stands before the students, “We all think that it is easier to fail than to succeed. I did not have much to look forward to. Then I came here to the WIZO Youth village, and among the things I learned was that the counsellors, social workers and teachers don’t believe in failure. They believed in me and they believe in all of you too. I can honestly say that living here gave me all the motivation and resources I needed to realize that a meaningful army service was within my reach. It is within your reach too.”

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