In an empowering ceremony, 35 Arab women receive qualification certificates as geriatric carers

[:en]There was excitement all around. On July 23, 2018, 35 Arab women were handed their geriatric-care qualification certificates by the Academic School for Nursing at The Hillel Yaffe Medical Centre in Israel. The women had previously been unemployed or worked as cleaners or in agriculture. The training involved 72 hours of theory and 48 hours of practice. At the graduation ceremony, the women were joined by Dr Meyrav Ben-Natan, manager of the School for Nursing; Tamar Vechter, manager of the School’s enrichment programme; Ayat Cabhah of the staff; Muraad Amash, chair of Jisr A-Zarka council; Rasam Jubran, head of the village’s welfare committee; Silvia Zayed, public health nurse in Jisr; Wafa Tiara, manager of the women and work project at WAC-MAAN union; Amani Kadan of WAC-MAAN staff; and Michal Schwartz, women’s forum coordinator at WAC-MAAN.

The certificates handed out at the ceremony are officially recognised and registered at the geriatric department of the Health Ministry. The event was part of a pilot project, providing Arab women with professional training in care work. The project is a collaboration between The Workers Advice Center, WAC-MAAN  and The Academic School for Nursing at Hillel Yaffe Medical Centre. Three such training courses have already been completed, and 63 care workers have qualified so far. Over half of those who have completed the training are already in employment, and they will be joined by the latest cohort.

The ceremony focused on thanks and congratulations, but above all on the empowerment of women. “My dream has been to help as many Arab women as possible to be independent and self-sufficient,” said Dr Ben-Natan, manager of the Nursing School. “I would like you to feel at home in our school,” she added, and offered to arrange for health-related talks in Jisr A-Zarka, where most of the new carers have their homes. “We believe in our women,” said Muraad Amash, chair of Jeisar A-Zarka council. “Our vision is to turn our village into a better place to live. You, newly qualified carers, have an important role in leading a new generation of women and children, in helping them understand that study and work are the foundations of a healthy society. You will be an example to them.”

Amani Kadan of WAC-MAAN spoke of how hard the women have worked to complete their training. She added that the training is only a first step in their advancement, and advised that they should continue to study and acquire new skills and knowledge. Wafa Tiara complimented the women for the way they successfully negotiated the multitude of calls on them at home, at work and at the school. She encouraged whoever was interested in finding immediate work to sign up with WAC-MAAN after the ceremony. Michal Shwartz reminded those present that the pilot scheme had been given the go-ahead right after WAC had offered to train Arab women as carers in old people’s homes instead of importing foreign workers. “You are the proof that Arab women want to, and can, work. There are thousands of Arab women desperate for work, and each one of you who succeeds opens the door for her sister,” she said.

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