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Israeli Youth Organize a Camp for
Young Kosovo Refugees
The young people of Israel, deeply moved by the plight of the Kosovar refugees, made a unique "Made-in-Israel" contribution to the international relief efforts.
The Israel Council of Youth Movements set up an activities center for Kosovar children in the Stenkovec 1 refugee camp, near Skopje. Among the many organizations operating in the camp, this is the only one dedicated to the education and entertainment of the young refugees and its work has gained international recognition, including a quick visit by the First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The center is operated by Israeli youth counselors, who organize sports and creative activities for approximately 2,500 children and youths. Among the activites available to the young people are arts-and-crafts, performances of children's plays, a puppet theater, dancing and sports. During the morning and afternoon sessions workshops are held, while in the mid-afternoon an activity is planned for the group as a whole. Children's films and storytelling take place throughout the day in three tents.
The center is operated by rotating teams of eight Israeli counselors, assisted by young Kosavars, including English-speaking university students. Each counselor spends approximately ten days in the camp. The first team arrived on April 21, and the initial goal is to keep the center open for three months. Currently the fourth and fifth teams -- departure and arrival dates are overlapped to maintain continuity -- are in Stenkovec.

The Israel Council of Youth Movements -- which is comprised of 12 groups including the Scouts, HaNoar HaOved VeHalomed (Working and Studying Youth), Young Maccabi and religious youth organizations -- has a total membership of approximately 250,000 children and young adults. Young Israelis organized two door-to-door fund raising campaigns in support of the Kosovar refugees. The first was held shortly after the crisis in Kosovo broke out, and raised funds for Israel's refugee efforts. A campaign in support of the center, entitled "Israel Loves Children", was held in early May, on the Jewish holiday of Lag baOmer. Additional funds and supplies for the center have been donated by companies and organizations in Israel and from abroad.

 

The operation of the center has been carried out with the approval of the Macedonian government and in coordination with the Skopje Jewish Community and representatives of the Embassy of Israel in Greece.

   

 

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