Awaad is a 25 year old Eritrean residing in Israel for the past 4+ years. It was not his intention to come to Israel but circumstances were such that this is where he ended up. Awaad left his homeland at the age of 17 to avoid the draft (which is essentially a lifetime of slavery in that country) and successfully crossed the border to Sudan. He lived in a refugee camp in Sudan for 2 years and dreamed of crossing the Mediterranean to Europe and perhaps to North America.
While in the refugee camp in Sudan he (like many others) was kidnapped by Bedouins and taken to Sinai where he was held hostage for a ransom of $13,000 which was eventually paid by family and friends, but not before he was tortured as is typically done to those they kidnapped. After six months, he was released at the Israeli border in Sinai where he was picked up by the IDF and transferred to an Israeli prison in the Negev.
After three months in prison he was dropped off by the IDF on the streets of South Tel Aviv where he discovered a friend from home who took him in and helped him settle in Israel.
While never intending to come to Israel this is where he ended up and began to make a life, working and supporting himself while living with friends. If returned to Eritrea, he would be either punished severely or likely receive the death penalty for having deserted.
Approximately two weeks ago Awaad was walking down the street near his home in B’nei Brak when he was accosted by a young Israeli who shouted at him and told him he would get a knife and come back and kill him. Indeed, within a few minutes the assailant returned with a butcher knife and struck out at Awaad’s neck. Throwing his arms up in defense, the knife severed his hand from his arm. The assailant fled, but an elderly woman who saw the entire attack from her window promptly called the police and rushed to his side. Awaad had the presence of mind to apply pressure to stop the bleeding and was transported to Tel Hashomer Hospital where surgeons successfully reattached his hand in an eleven hour surgery (with costs covered by the doctors and the hospital).
It took two weeks for the media to report this assault. When Gideon Ben Ami who runs his small food retrieval program in Tel Aviv heard the news he immediately visited Awaad and promised to help. Gideon has consulted with hospital social workers, doctors, refugee organizations and others and today Awaad received his first physical therapy session. Miraculously, doctors are heartened to see that he has sensation in his fingers. He was released from the hospital this afternoon and Gideon has brought him to his own apartment believing (justifiably so) that Awaad’s old neighborhood is no longer safe with the assailant residing nearby.
While Awaad’s roommates search for another apartment he will remain with Gideon. We have pledged to provide support for some of the following needs as identified at this time: Awaad’s share of the rent (once an apartment is secured), moving costs, transportation to and from the hospital for therapy, food and other incidentals for as long as it takes for him to resume working in a suitable job. The Ministry of Health has been petitioned to cover the cost of the physical therapy and Gideon has identified two therapists who have offered their services on a pro bono basis once the hospital-based therapy ends.
As Gideon wrote earlier, “He is a strong person and has a will to survive. It’s a joy to offer him help.” With Gideon and those he has already enlisted to help we have no doubt that Awaad will eventually recover physically, find a job that can accommodate his new reality and hopefully find peace.
Can you help us help Awaad? Any tzedakah donated will be used for his needs until he is able to regain his independence.