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The Refugee Voice is a grassroots newspaper created by African asylum seekers and Israelis in Israel.
The newspaper was founded in April 2011 by Maya Fennig, a student at Tel Aviv University studying social work at the time. Maya had volunteered with asylum seekers in Israel for several years and had developed deep friendships with refugees from countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, and the Ivory Coast. Over time, Maya realized that she was getting daily phone calls from refugees with questions about changes in Israeli policy toward them, how to access social services like healthcare, and other inquiries about daily life in Israel. Maya felt that many of the refugees were dependent not only on her, but on Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for access to information related to them. For Maya, creating the newspaper was a tangible solution to reduce the reliance of refugees on others for access to important information.
Maya’s original idea was for the newspaper to be an internal news medium for the communities themselves. In other words, the paper would be published in 3 languages--Tigrinya (the language spoken by most Eritrean asylum seekers), Arabic (spoken by most Sudanese), and English (spoken by many other asylum seekers). However, Maya did not make these decisions on her own. After Maya recruited refugees and Israelis to the staff, the entire group spent hours coming up with their concept and goals. The group felt that the newspaper should be accessible to the Israeli public as well, believing that it could serve as a bridge between the refugee and Israeli populations. Thus, they decided to include Hebrew as another language of the newspaper.


The newspaper, which is 24 pages long, is distributed free of charge. 10,000 copies of each edition are distributed.
Articles focus on news stories pertinent to asylum seekers residing in Israel. The articles provide asylum seekers with access to the news and information, enabling them to make informed decisions about their lives and futures. As a result, asylum seekers are better able to cope with difficult issues such as violence against asylum seekers in Israel and human trafficking in Sinai.
The Refugee Voice provides an opportunity for asylum seekers to utilize their professional skills and seek employment opportunities, as many of them are educated and talented, just unable to find employment opportunities due to government policies hindering them from being hired. The newspaper also provides staff members the tools and training to gain professional experience in journalism. The newspaper provides the reporters and photographers a voice to represent their communities and establish a local, national, and international forum where they can publish opinions, investigations, and photographs. Our fundamental goal is for The Refugee Voice to eventually be fully staffed and managed by asylum seekers.

 
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