The Lions Clubs International volunteer organization has launched a program aimed at securing glasses for migrant workers in Israel.
“For a while now my son has needed glasses,” says G., a migrant worker. “But glasses are a very expensive thing.” Her five-year old son was born in Israel, yet he is not eligible for an HMO and therefore relies on his mother’s paycheck for luxuries such as spectacles.
‘Glasses not workers’ first priority’ (Photo: Adi Sasson)
Many migrant workers are forced to deal with health problems not covered by the flimsy insurance afforded them by their employers, and many unable to afford glasses must suffer a handicap that could otherwise be solved quite easily.
The Lions organization has made fighting blindness in third world countries one of its major goals, and is now cooperating with Doctors for Human Rights and Doron Optic stores to help workers from these countries see.
Dr. Ayman K. Agbaria, who heads Doctors for Human Rights, explained that “glasses are not first on the migrant workers’ list of priorities and I am glad we can help them with this project”.
The project includes a glasses donation campaign asking people to donate old pairs they no longer need. In addition, collection boxes for old spectacles have been placed at each of Doron Optic’s 15 national stores.
The project will also provide workers with children with coupons for free eye exams at each of these stores, after which they will be allotted a free pair of glasses to suit their needs.
G. and her son were one of the first to make use of their new privilege. G., who needed glasses herself, said she could not believe her eyes. “It’s hard to believe I could have gotten along without glasses until now,” she added.
Ran Cohen, also of the Doctors for Human Rights organization, said ever since the police’s immigration unit had launched its nationwide campaign more and more migrant workers had begun to fear taking their children for an eye exam.
Cohen said this resulted in a lack of ability to function in school. “Without this project, these children would have no chance at getting the glasses that can very much affect their way of life,” he said.
Pnina Efrati, Lions’ District Governor in Israel, said the project would bring a “major change in quality of life” for the workers.
She gave as an example a story of two children from Beersheba, whose parents did not have the means to provide them with glasses. “They are now flowering socially and conducting themselves better,” she said. “They got back the gift of sight.”
Israeli singer, finalist in popular TV talent show, chosen to represent Israel in 2010 Eurovision Song Contest; says upcoming album to be featured in iTunes
Harel Skaat is Israel’s most promising export this year – literally. The singer has been chosen to represent his country in the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, an honor only a select few get to have.
But Skaat has been a fan favorite in Israel for years before receiving this honor. In 2004, he was the runner-up for “A Star is Born” (Israel’s version of American Idol). While he didn’t win the show, his season finale performance broke a record by topping the official Israeli Music Channel charts for 80 days.
Skaat released his debut album in 2006. It reached gold status after just three weeks, which turned into platinum not much later. He was named Singer of the Year by virtually all the Israeli radio stations and won multiple awards at the Israeli Music Channel Awards.
In 2007 and 2008, Skaat embarked on a tour involving 200 shows. He released his sophomore album, “Figures”, the next year to rave reviews. The 28-year-old singer ended 2009 with news that he was selected by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority to represent Israel at the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo.
What drew you to music?
Ever since I can remember, I have been singing. I was born with an inherent love for music, a love which has developed and grown through the years. In music I find love, hate, compassion, and each and every possible emotion that enhances our experiences in life.
How has your new album “Figures” been received in Israel so far?
So far, the album has been doing very well. I have been receiving great reactions by people of different ages, from all walks of life, who really connect to the music and lyrics. I was very involved in the writing of Figures and I feel that it represents a more mature me, and therefore am thrilled that it touches so many people.
Is it true that the album is being launched internationally?
The album is already available on eBay and it will soon be featured on iTunes.
Congratulations on Eurovision, that’s a huge honor.
Where were you when you found out you were chosen?
I was actually at a great festival in the south of Israel, where I was performing French Chansons.
Do you know what song you’re singing for the contest yet?
I am in the process of looking for the song.
When can we expect to see you on tour? Will there be any Canadian and US shows?
I am constantly performing in Israel and hope to come to the US and Canada in the summer! If you invite me, I can come as soon as tomorrow!
Every artist has a different songwriting process. What’s yours like?
To me writing is not a process but rather a very powerful – and being so self critical, also a very difficult -spiritual journey. Whenever I write, I always feel a spiritual connection to God.
Would you ever collaborate with anyone from “A Star is Born”?
Many great talents and voices were discovered on that show and if the right opportunity presents itself, I will not say no!
What else do you have planned for 2010?
My dream is to tour the world, to be healthy and never, ever, stop singing.
Though the Israeli search-and-rescue team has left Haiti, the Israeli spirit continues to waft through the devastated country. An Israeli delegation to the island country set up a provisional school among the earthquake wreckage.
The school, which is located in a large tent in Port-au-Prince, was established in coordination with the government of Haiti and neighboring Dominican Republic. Hundreds of children in the city will arrive on Monday for the first day of school in the makeshift school. Some 800 pupils will study there.
Upon hearing of the school’s launch, many children started searching the rubble for school supplies. Among the items they found were chalk boards, books, and notebooks.
“We are locating education figures and dominant people within the camps. Through them, we are recruiting additional key figures,” said Dr. Moshe Farhi on Saturday. Farhi is heading up the Israeli delegation that left for the country from the organization Natan Israeli Coalition for International Humanitarian Aid, named for Israeli activist Abie Natan.
Dr. Farhi, who is also a trauma and stress expert teaching at Tel Hai Academic College, said excitedly that teachers have been trained in how to treat traumas children have undergone.
The delegation is slated to remain in Haiti for half a year.
The Yad Sarah volunteer medical organization, together with the Foreign Ministry, will donate three tons of medical equipment to Haiti. Israeli Ambassador to Haiti Amos Radian was asked to coordinate the aid shipment.
Itamar Eichner contributed to this report