April 6, 2009 / 12 Nissan 5769
Minimayel Kinda's family left their village in Ethiopia and waited for eight years in the city of Gondar to go to Israel. "Our dream of Jerusalem kept us going," says 16-year-old Minimayel, who made aliyah in 2006 with his mother, father and five sisters.
The family began their new life at the Jewish Agency Absorption Center in Mevasseret Zion, outside of Jerusalem. Minimayel says that he feels really good in Israel, but the move from Ethiopia was difficult. "My parents know that we have to face these initial hurdles, but they encourage all of us and give us the motivation to achieve."
And achieve is exactly what Minimayel is doing. In spite of coming to Israel with only a 4th grade education, he worked tirelessly with his teachers and the absorption center staff to learn Hebrew and catch up in his studies. Recognizing his incredible intellectual aptitude, the absorption center director recommended that Minimayel apply to a prestigious youth village in northern Israel to pursue advanced academic studies. As a testament to his talents: After only one year in Israel, Minimayel passed the entrance exams with very high grades.
At the youth village, Minimayel is part of the Jewish Agency's Pre-Atidim program which promotes excellence and higher education among talented high school students from the geographic and social periphery. With over 13,000 participants, the program is comprised of high-level enrichment classes in math, the sciences and English, activities that encourage personal empowerment and social consciousness, and role models who introduce these teenagers to the world of higher education and the opportunities it can bring. For Minimayel, it is the key to his future.
“I went to school until the fourth grade in Ethiopia. When I came to Israel three years ago I was 13 and so thirsty to learn that I studied really hard. I passed my high school entrance exams with honors, and now as part of the Pre-Atidim program I am getting the support I need to graduate with excellence in math and science and continue to college."
"It is important for me to advance, and I invest a lot of time in my studies. Pre-Atidim gives me the scholastic and emotional support to be the best I can be academically and socially," continues Minimayel, who was awarded a laptop computer as one of Pre-Atidim's outstanding students.
Minimayel plans to serve in the army and then go on to study at one of Israel's best universities. He is in honor classes in math, biology and bible studies. "My parents are so proud of me. And I thank Atidim for everything that they are doing for me, and other students like me."