Early childhood education program gives Arab Israeli family 'a new life'

Christine Aframe is one of many Arab Israelis who have benefited from the Echad program.

As a single mother, 26-year-old Christine Aframe felt overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for her two young daughters. With no friends or family to turn to for help, Aframe – an Arab Israeli woman who grew up in the Galilee – became deeply depressed. “I felt like a dead person,” she said. “I was completely alone.”

When Aframe moved to Haifa a year and a half ago, she was referred to Echad. An early childhood education program for Arab Israelis, Echad is a centerpiece of the Federation’s work in Israel. Through weekly sessions with a social worker, Christine learned how to cope with the financial and emotional stresses of single motherhood, and she slowly emerged from her depression. “Echad is like a family,” she said. “It gave me a new a life for me and my daughters.”

In addition to coping skills, Christine learned ways that she could contribute to her daughters’ cognitive and emotional development. Now, she reads to four-year-old Breta and six-year-old Sirin every day, and plays with them in the local park. Moreover, Breta and Sirin are enrolled in the Echad preschool, where, to their mother’s great delight, they are thriving.

While 90% of Jewish three-year-olds in Israel attend preschool, only 54% of their Arab counterparts attend early childhood education programs. Echad seeks to address the gaps in early childhood education by enhancing parenting skills in the Arab Israeli community, as well as educating the community’s pre-school age children. In fact, Echad has proven so effective that the Israeli government has adopted it as a model for its own work in Arab Israeli communities.

The Federation funds Echad as part of its commitment to Equal Opportunity and Social Change. By providing Arab Israelis – more than 20% of the Israeli population – with the opportunity to build better lives for themselves and for their children, we are helping to build a stronger Israel.

Read more about our Federation's work in Israel

Categories: Israel


June 23, 2010


The Federation