Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel

Community Work

 

"Community work is a process whereby people learn to live actively in the public space, to understand that it belongs to them and acknowledge that they can shape it. They learn to express in practice their right and responsibility stemming from this ownership" (Sadan 2009)

Community work at Assaf is not part and parcel of any specific project but rather an overall concept which colors all the components of the Association's work, thereby characterizing it.

Assaf's work is based on several principles of community perception which attributes importance to the involvement of members of the community and their responsibility for their own fate. We believe that the community members are endowed with the strengths and the resources required to advance themselves. Our main function is to develop a partnership with community members and to bolster their skills and strength in order to make an impact on their lives and environment through support and empowerment. We act to build this partnership through giving them an active role in the decision-making process and in activities related to their lives. We endeavor to link the professional knowhow of the Association to the experience and powers of the community and to harness them for their own benefit and that of the community in general. Another means of empowerment is by making knowhow, tools and skills accessible so that community members can solve their own problems and change their surroundings .

Another guiding principle is belief in social solidarity and in the power of community organization. We believe that the meeting between people gives them great strength. The community arena makes it possible to create expanses which advance the aims of the community members: it strengthens solidarity, increases opportunities for sharing knowhow and resources, intensifies the feeling that "you are not alone", creates a sense of belonging. Moreover, we cannot ignore the fact that the asylum-seeker and refugee community is weak and excluded, and deprived of any opportunity for social, economic and political participation in Israeli society. Hence there is a direct connection between the personal problems of community members and the processes of social exclusion.  The community space  aids in processes of community empowerment and furthers understanding that personal problems are an expression of wider political phenomena or issues.

In our activities we view the community-social context as extering an impact on the individual and vice versa: through contact with the field and  direct work with the community, the Association tries to define  the needs and strengths of the community, identify the gap between community needs and available resources and respond to those needs, and acts in conjunction with  community members to change the prevailing situation. Activity includes enhancing the community's awareness of  its needs, strengths and rights, efforts to change policy and promote the rights of asylum-seekers, empowerment,  accompaniment and training of community activists so that they can help their communities and aid in community organization.