Rank & File: 'We Were All Once Refugees' Mural Collaboration in Central Tel Aviv

Design students from Holon join disabled people advocacy group in Purim 'costume make-a-thon' and The Good People Fund celebrates it's first decade

Volunteers from Kuchinate (African Refugee Women’s Collective and Artist) and Mia Schon's team with their mural in Tel Aviv this week
Mia Schon

URGENCY FOR REFUGEES: Kuchinate – African Refugee Women’s Collective and public street artist Mia Schon collaborated on a mosaic mural in Tel Aviv to raise awareness about the asylum-seeker issue. The 3.5 meter x 2.5-meter mural at the corner of Rothschild and Herzl reads: “We were all once refugees.” “Through the repurposing of found materials and broken pieces, we create a message in mosaic,” said Diddy Mymin Kahn, Kuchinate’s South African-born director. Schon told Haaretz that she agreed to the project when approached by Mymin Kahn because of the urgency of the issue. “It was an extremely fast and low-budget mosaic because it is/ so crucial to get the message out,” said Schon, who grew up in Boston. Schon’s team of volunteers, hailing from France, Belgium, Argentina and the United States, included Drew Pierce, Jackie Schon, Lou Van Gansbeke, Jen Elias, Melissa Peltz, Sara Cohen, Sara Merenbloom Leitner and Rachel Lwk-Bch.

DREAM COSTUMES: Beit Issie Shapiro, the advocacy group for people affected by severe disabilities and their families, teamed up with design students from the Holon Institute of Technology to bring together student volunteers and children who use wheelchairs or walkers for a Purim “costume make-a thon.” The teams worked together to create designs that incorporated the wheelchair or walker into the costume rather than hide it, Beit Issie Shapiro’s Tanya Stern told Haaretz. “When it comes to those holidays where kids dress up, it’s challenging to find a costume for a child without a disability, but for a child with a physical disability it’s nearly impossible due to the accessories they use,” said Micha Grunberg, father of Avital, who uses a walker. “This is where amazing initiatives like this one make such a difference to our children and build the costumes of their dreams.”

CAN-DO GOOD: The Good People Fund, the U.S.-based grant organization that funds and incubates startup social entrepreneurs throughout Israel, marked its 10th year with a large gathering last Thursday in Tel Aviv of NGOs receiving its support. “In this beautiful and complicated country, the startup nation mentality is not just at work in the technology sphere,” said Julie Fisher, wife of former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro and an advocate for the nonprofit sector, at the event. “A can-do spirit is famous here and not just in math and science. It is founded in the work of good people day to day, who don’t see barriers, they see opportunities, and then, boom, another NGO is founded. That kind of spirit inspires me.” The Good People Fund partners with startup programs in Israel in fields such as poverty, elder care, women’s empowerment, hunger and food rescue, and welfare of those with physical and mental challenges.

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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