Ajeec-Nisped’s Arab Bedouin Volunteer Center (“The Tent”) has received the President’s Award for Excellence in a Volunteer Organisation in Israel.
The Center for Cooperative Development of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development (Ajeec-Nisped) was founded in 1998 by Dr Yehudah Paz, who dedicated his life to working towards peace between Israel and Palestine. The Tent, which currently engages 1,300 volunteers, aims to foster values of active citizenship, community engagement, volunteerism and the pursuit of equality between Jewish and Arabic communities in Israel.
Each year, the President’s Office selects and honours individuals and organisations who have excelled in contributing to Israeli society. In 2016, President Reuven Rivlin chose to focus on organisations and individuals who promote dialogue, tolerance and partnership between the various groups in Israeli society.
The Tent was established in 2002 with the aim of including the Negev Arab-Bedouin community in the broader civil society landscape in Israel. By recruiting volunteers from the community itself, the Tent encourages the values of active citizenship and works to create shared space between Arabs and Jews in the Negev.
The Tent’s 1,300 young volunteers include Arab-Bedouins and Jews between the ages of 15-25, who can be university students, high school students and gap-year participants. A total of 50,000 children, youth and adults benefit from the Tent’s various activities each year.
Some of the programmes aim to strengthen and prepare the younger generation in the Bedouin society for leadership positions. Another seeks to create a shared space for Jews and Arabs in the Negev.
The Tent has 30 staff, managed by Wafa Ibn Beri, who work together to identify, train and facilitate a wide number of community volunteers.
Read more: The people-to-people approach to peace
“Receiving this award is not only an honour for us and for our volunteers, but also a recognition by the President of Israel of our hard and persistent work over the years,” said Kher Elbaz and Ariel Dloomy, co-executive directors of Ajeec-Nisped.
“For the past decade and a half, the Tent has worked in co-operation with many partners and has received great appreciation from the community as well as from co-operative organisations. The President’s Award has a special meaning that gives us additional strength to continue our work towards a shared and inclusive society in Israel.”