Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Desert Stars

The story of Bedouin society in the Negev Desert is an important chapter in the narrative of the State of Israel. Its transition from a traditional nomadic to a modern lifestyle is beset with challenges, yet it also offers the opportunity to create a cohesive, inter-tribal leadership, one united by the desire for a better future for the next generation.

The nonprofit Desert Stars offers Bedouin children from tribes and settlements in the Negev a ten-year-long educational framework as well as mentoring in a chosen field. Along with leadership and entrepreneurial skills, these young Bedouins learn the value of personal and social responsibility, and that with enough hard work and determination, the (desert) sky is the limit.

Diab Algalban and Amir Abu Kiff are just two of Desert Stars’ many success stories: Diab, who discovered a love for teaching, became the first Bedouin coordinator in Israel’s national scouts movement; today, he’s also a manager of several branches of Krembo Wings, a movement for children and young adults with and without special needs. Amir, who created a program that teaches English to Bedouin children scattered throughout the desert, was invited to join forces with the Umm Batin Community Center at the start of the school year. By combining a commitment to education with the value of community, they and others like them are creating a new tradition for young Bedouins to follow.