2017 CNN Hero, Mariuma Ben Yosef will be the keynote speaker at the combined AGM of all seven welfare organisations scheduled for 18 October.
The Founder and CEO of Shanti House Association, Mariuma Ben Yosef, was chosen to be the first Israeli to be featured in CNN’s prestigious flagship project, CNN Heroes. Mariuma was selected from among thousands of candidates from 187 countries.
Mariuma Ben Yosef founded the Shanti Houses — Warm Homes for Youth at Risk, 33 years ago. To date, the association has assisted more than 46 000 youths in the State of Israel. The houses accept youths regardless of religion, race, gender or nationality from the ages of 2-21. About 80% of the Shanti children return to normal life, acquire an education, enlist in the army and grow to be law-abiding citizens that contribute to society in Israel.
With a problematic past of her own, involving homelessness in her early teenage years, Ben Yosef knew the horrible reality so many others experienced. Ben Yosef welcomed youth off the streets to share in her Shabbat meals. Those who came through the door were all different but had all escaped some sort of mental or physical abuse, drug use, crime, or unhealthy relationships at home. Based on a care-giving model created and developed by Ben Yosef, the Shanti House operates on the belief that a loving and caring home is necessary for all individuals, especially in the crucial stages of development. Using the rehabilitating methods of Shantherapy, the youths are offered and encouraged to take part in horse riding, hydrotherapy, art therapy, and individual therapy sessions.
In 2000 Mariuma was honoured to be invited to light one of the beacons at that year’s official Independence Day Eve Ceremony and in 2007 was awarded the title of Woman of the City of Tel Aviv. Last year she lectured at the TED-X Israel conference about ‘Choosing Life’. While in Cape Town, Mariuma will be conducting workshops with the professionals in the seven welfare organisations under the JCC umbrella, as well as with the broader community.
Paul Berman, Chairman of Jewish Community Services, met Mariuma Ben Yosef when in Israel this year. He was so impressed by her and the work she is doing that he has generously sponsored her visit to Cape Town.