“I want to be a pioneer in my family and culture.”
— Hanna Avera, daughter of Ethiopian olim in Israel
Her parents arrived in 1991 as part of Operation Solomon, the historic airlift that brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. She was born two years later, one foot in modern Israeli society — and one in the mores of her traditional native culture.
Still, Hanna Avera remembers her father, a street cleaner, and her mother, a homemaker raising seven children, emphasizing education as the way forward in their new country, along with dreams and aspiration.
“My parents encouraged me to be ambitious, but I knew my path to success would be very difficult,” she says.
In Netanya, the central coastal city in Israel that is home to a vast number of Ethiopian olim, that path is indeed difficult, with challenges such as poverty and acceptance making individual and collective strides hard.
It is there that The Forgotten People Fund — a GPF grantee — does its legwork and makes its impact, vetting cases of need and providing financial, material, and even emotional support to olim.
Anne and David Silverman, and Wendy and Jeff Starrfield, mainstays on the streets of Netanya and at a community center for olim, identify the most compelling needs and how The Forgotten People Fund can help, from supplying grocery gift cards, to helping pay for educational expenses.
Speak to Hanna even just briefly, and a young woman with drive — and a deep sense of obligation to her parents’ sacrifices, to her community’s struggles, and to Israel’s promise — emerges clearly and forcefully.
After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, where she rose to the level of commander, she enrolled at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and earned a BA degree in Government in 2019 and a MA degree in Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution in 2021.
The Forgotten People Fund provided Hanna with stipends for living expenses to alleviate financial pressures during her studies, and a new computer — made directly possible by GPF — to replace a failing old one, so her studies went uninterrupted.
Hanna, now 29, is working for a government department that deals with social equality issues. With her education and growing experience, she aims to some day represent Israel in the diplomatic arena, as an ambassador or at the United Nations, and to advance issues of importance to women and girls.
“Throughout my life I have seen people who do not believe in themselves or their abilities to change their situation, and so many times I have witnessed that having one person to stand behind them and believe in them helped them fulfill their potential.
“That has made all the difference for me as I aim as high as possible and run toward my goals. I want to be a pioneer in my family and culture.”