In 2017, AWB awarded an AWB Impact Grant to the Haifa Communities’ House, a brand-new LGBTQ center located in the heart of an integrated Muslim and Jewish neighborhood. These funds will be used to support trans* communities, especially trans women working in the sex trade industry.
Amir Kfir, Chen Gilaad, Arnon Alush (center), Adi Sadaka, Yoav Zaritsky at the Haifa Communities’ House
The first project that the AWB Impact Grant will support is a year-long inclusivity lunch program for trans women working in the sex-trade industry.
“A year ago, we were made aware of around 15 women who are working in the sex-trade industry from home,” explains Arnon Allouche, the center’s Executive Director.
These women live under the radar, unbeknownst to even the welfare offices, and rarely feel safe to venture outside their apartments. The women are from diverse backgrounds including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and a number from the Druze community.
“We wanted to create an opportunity to reach out and to show these women that they can feel at home in other places besides their flat, “ says Arnon.
Arnon and the Communities’ House staff decided that the best way to create a welcoming environment is to program a monthly lunch and workshop series for the women. Through the promise of a delicious healthy meal, and fun activities like styling and makeup sessions, the women will be treated to true rest and relaxation. In collaboration with a nearby holistic school, the women will receive massages and holistic health information. In return, students from the school will gain experience working with LGBTQ communities.
“We want to create a fun, non-judgmental environment for the trans women,” says Arnon. “We know that to build trust takes time, and this is a longterm project. First we might have one or two women. They will go back and tell others, and slowly this will build bridges.”
The second project that the A Wider Bridge Impact grant will support is the launch of a small coffee shop at the Haifa Communities’ House. Modeled after a similar endeavor in Tel Aviv, the café will provide safe, secure employment and job training skills for those in the trans* community, and especially trans women.
Arnon reflects that trans women in Israel face a tremendous amount of discrimination. Many women find it quite difficult to land a stable job and a steady income, especially those women who do not “pass”.
“We believe that this coffee shop will provide stability and a steady income,” says Arnon. “It is a way to make an impact.”
This month, A Wider Bridge will be bringing Arnon Allouche and Adi Sadaka from the Communities’ House to the United States for a speaking tour. They will be speaking about these programs and how they are working to create a multicultural, feminist, pluralistic space which is welcome to all. Tour information can be found here!