Social and Economic Justice

"It's moving to see so many people wanting to help"

07 August 2014 By New Israel Fund

It's not easy at the moment to get hold of Erez Nagawker, the head of Be'er Sova, an NGO which has been working for 15 years on food security and education projects in Be'er Sheva. While busy with the organization's increased workload since the start of the fighting, he was called up for reserve duty. Amid the chaos, NIF managed to have a brief chat with him.

What is Be'er Sova doing at the moment? "We have the community restaurant, which is open all the time, and people come to eat. When the rockets began falling on Be'er Sheva, we had doubts as to whether to open the restaurant because it doesn't have a protected space, and then I myself was called up for reserve duty. The volunteers decided to open it anyway."

What happens there? "Every day people come to get food - disadvantaged people, and also Holocaust survivors. In parallel, because people are afraid of leaving their homes, we decided to set up distribution lines: we are giving out containers of food for individual homes, senior citizen centers and also for youth clubs; everyone who needs a meal. People approach us and we deliver the containers."

To how many people are you giving food? "Around 80 people a day come to the restaurant to eat a warm meal, and there are around 50 families who either come to pick the food up or get it delivered."

What are the responses? "People are really happy that we're open because other programs in Be'er Sheva are closed. At the beginning we didn't think that many people would come, but when the stomach grumbles there's no choice. More and more families are coming to request packages and we are helping everyone."

And how are you managing with your reserve duty? "It's not easy to combine it with work, but I'm pleased to say that we have volunteers who decided to come and help, and they make it much easier for me. We wouldn't succeed without them."

Any other thoughts? "Yes. It really moves me to see the people of Israel coming together to help during times like this, when the situation is difficult. I want to thank everyone."