JobKatif’s programs evolved as the needs evolved. From the flagship program of employment placement, Jobkatif began to also introduce individual and family counseling, vocational retraining courses, employment subsidies, small business counseling, bridge-to-work volunteer programs, academic scholarships, community volunteerism.
(1) Agriculture. Gush Katif was home to 400 people who earned their living from farming. After the disengagement, only a handful were able to return to faming — it takes years to prepare lands to produce bug-free vegetables for which Gush Katif was famous. Compensation moneys did not cover the added costs involved in purchasing farm lands in areas approved by the government. When you’ve spent most of your adult life farming, and your farm has been taken away from you, what can you now do to earn a living?
(2) Small Business Owners. There were some 100 small business owners. When they were forced to leave their homes and stores, goods were stored in government-approved ‘containers.’ Unfortunately, most of the goods and possessions were destroyed.
(3) Municipal Employees. Many Gush Katif residents were employed in the schools, municipal councils, community centers, etc. With the disengagement, almost all lost their jobs.
JobKatif created multi-level services and programs to help the Gush Katif families re-integrate into the work force. In a few cases, JobKatif was able to help people make ‘lateral’ moves — e.g. if you were a bus driver in Gush Katif, JobKatif could help you become a bus driver in your new community. But what if you had been a farmer with no more lands to farm? Or a small business owner with no small business to continue? Or a director of a community center without proper certification? Or a teacher who had no desire to continue teaching? JobKatif staff had to think more creatively, trying to understand what the individuals would like to do, what they were capable of doing, what skills they possessed and what skills they needed to enrich. The process was long and complex.
We are committed to helping other population groups who find themselves on the margins of Israeli society because they are unemployed or under-employed. We believe this is the best way towards a truly ‘just society’ — and the best way to combat poverty.
Our Achotenu Project helps train Ethiopians to become nurses. New initiatives are currently under consideration.