In our recent newsletter we included an interview with Dina Gidron, our representative in Israel, highlighting some of the work we support in Israel. We have included this here for those who may have missed it or do not receive our newsletter.
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What do you enjoy most about being the Pears representative in Israel?
DG: It’s hard to pinpoint what I enjoy most, as I pretty much enjoy all of it! Both the main areas the Foundation works in, in Israel, are extremely important and very different, which of course makes my work week super interesting.
On the one hand we promote the idea of a shared society, with specific focus on the status of Arab citizens of Israel. On the other hand, we believe that Israel should also look outside of itself and be a significant force for good, especially in some of the worlds most impoverished communities. In this area of work our Foundation is blazing a trail with some very strategic and inspiring partners. Together we are building up a community of Israelis who are seriously invested in helping make the world a better place through sharing knowledge, academic collaborations, innovative and creative technologies and programs, all with a typical Israeli – Get up and just do – attitude.
What is your biggest challenge?
DG: Probably the biggest challenge is working so far from the Foundation and the team. While I know I can always call upon any of them for assistance, I don’t benefit from informally sharing challenges or thinking out loud and getting real-time feedback on the best course of action. The up-side is that I get to come over to the UK once or twice a year for team meetings. These are hugely important for me, as I get to learn about all the work we are doing in the UK, share with the team some of the work I am doing in Israel and just as important, really feel a part of the Foundation team.
How has Israel’s international development sector changed in recent years?
DG: The significant change in the International Development sector in Israel over the past 5-7 years, is probably one of the things I am most proud of in my work for the Foundation in Israel. With Sir Trevor’s vision and understanding of the potential contribution that Israel could have in the world, we set about identifying and establishing a number of foundational organisations and programmes, with the belief that we can “raise the tide for all ships”.
Some of these include the establishment of SID Israel – an umbrella organisation, launching the Pears Challenge boosting innovation for development, supporting an array of NGO’s doing groundbreaking work in Asia and Africa such as Tevel B’Tzedek and NALA – and others.
The cumulative effect of these different initiatives and programs has resulted in a community of thousands, with hundreds of innovators, dozens of active NGOs with better collaborative efforts and greater professionalism, and more awareness on part of government, parliament and other public bodies now more ready to support these types of endeavours.
What are some of your highlights of the year?
The best part of the year is when I get to meet the Pears Scholars – Graduate students from Africa and Asia who choose to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in one of 3 intensive programmes: International Public Health, Agriculture and Community Development. They are most impressive young people and have come very far, leaving behind friends and family in order to advance their professional development, going back to their countries to bring about change and better the quality of life for so many.
But probably the best of the best is the annual tradition we started a few years ago when all 3 programmes come together to learn from one another and get to know each other. Each year a different program hosts and is responsible for the content of the gathering. It’s possibly the only event across the University that brings 3 different programmes from 3 different campuses and 3 different Faculties – a small miracle!
What inspires you most about your role?
Most inspiring are the professionals in the different NGO’s we support, they are truly amazing individuals who put the welfare of others often above their own. It’s a privilege to work with them and be able to provide support for their causes.
What is the most unexpected thing that has happened to you in this role?
That’s a tough one… I think I never expected to be the face of a British philanthropic foundation in Israel, and certainly never planned for it. The other unexpected thing is finding out that often it’s not about how much money we give, but actually the sense of partnership and counselling we can provide for many of our partners along the way.