(Thursday, 17 January 2019) – The inaugural ‘Global Impact Awards’ were presented at a gala event in Tel Aviv, in the presence of the President Reuven Rivlin, to humanitarians who have excelled in making a positive impact in the developing world.

Among the winners are six Israeli ventures, non-profits, and individuals and two non-Israeli citizens who have contributed meaningfully towards global volunteering, international development, and humanitarian aid while forging partnerships between Israel and global Jewry.  

The Global Impact Awards winners with President Reuven Rivlin  (Photo Credit: Benny Lapid)

The unprecedented awards are a joint initiative of the Society for International Development (SID) Israel, Walla! News and OLAM, an organization designed to help advance the global Jewish service movement that  functions as a coalition of 54 organizations dedicated to promoting, enhancing and showcasing the impact of Jewish organizations and individuals in the field of global volunteering, aid and development, alongside several other partners.

“The winners here tonight, the organizations, the men and the women who will come up onto the stage, represent the best of our academic research, the best of Israeli innovation that has produced companies, innovations and technology of a quality and a quantity that is unparalleled in the world,” President Rivlin said. “They also represent civil society, where the depth of specialization and the level of passion have made it groundbreaking, and the cooperation between Israel and Jewish communities around the world which brings a breath of fresh air, and acts as our force multiplier to do good in the world.”

Among the award recipients were Dr. Georgette Bennett, founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, and Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Executive Director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV).

Dr. Bennett, a child of Holocaust survivors and a refugee, was recognized for her groundbreaking work at the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), the USA’s leading interfaith response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Over the past 2 years, MFA has shipped $120 million of relief items to Israeli ports, where they were then transported by the IDF to the Golan Heights and turned over to NGOs in southwest Syria. This effort sustained hospitals and family clinics, equipped a maternity ward, and established a baking facility.

"Dr. Bennett is the embodiment of why we created this award in the first place. Not only has she transformed the lives of vulnerable Syrian refugees, but she has done so in deep partnership with Israel and the global Jewish community," said Dyonna Ginsburg, Executive Director of OLAM.

Jean-Claude was recognized for his ground-breaking work at ASYV, a holistic living and learning community in Rwanda modelled after the Israeli youth village Yemin Orde. ASYV provides an education and a home to more than 500 vulnerable Rwandan youth a year. As of 2018, 80% of alumni were enrolled in or had graduated from higher education programs.  ASYV partners with numerous Jewish organizations, including American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; hosts Jewish volunteers from around the world; and houses a solar field built by the Israeli company Energiya Global.

"Under Jean-Claude's leadership, ASYV embodies the values underlying this unique award. Not only has ASYV impacted over 1200 vulnerable Rwandan youth, but it has done so together with Israel and the global Jewish community," said Ginsburg.

Other awardees were GivingWay, IsraAID, Tahal, Soapy Care, SSF-Rescuers without Borders, and Professor  received a Lifetime Achievement Award

This landmark award ceremony highlights Israel's commitment to international development and to strengthening the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities through the work of Tikkun Olam.