Chaim Peri’s very name means “fruitful life” in Hebrew, and he has taken that connection to heart. For more than 30 years, Chaim has brought new meaning to the word “life” for thousands of youth around the world who were uprooted or from dysfunctional homes, giving them a long-term home base at Yemin Orde, the Orde Wingate Youth Village in Israel.
Chaim realized that the typical “orphanage” system creates a sense of fear and uncertainty in children because they know when they arrive that they will “age out” and have no place to go afterward. To combat this, Yemin Orde becomes the child’s home forever. They never really age out and there is always a place for them to come and live with their Yemin Orde family – for a few days, weeks or months. The day they arrive their fears are put to rest by touring the residential area of the grounds. “This is and will always be your home, whenever you want it,” they are told.
But there is so much more to Chaim’s dream of “The Village Way” that the model has now been replicated in 20 educational institutions around Israel, shared by all sectors of Israeli society – Jews and Arabs alike and in other countries including Rwanda after the horrible genocide there.
Chaim maintains that only transformed educators have the ability to transform children. According to Chaim, the key to this transformation is in restructuring educational environments for at-risk youth by deinstitutionalizing their institutional characteristics. It is about carefully addressing the built-in failures of residential education for at-risk youth and providing solutions to overcome these setbacks.
In 1998, Chaim received one of the first World of Children Humanitarian Awards for his dedication to troubled youth at Yemin Orde. We honor him again this year for the incredible global impact he has had in the lives of children around the world.
For more information about Chaim Peri and his work with disadvantaged youth in Israel, please visit www.yeminorde.org.
Read our interview with Chaim by clicking here.