“Making our way from Ethiopia to Israel was a dream for me and my family. Finding the Israel Tennis & Education Centers helped turn that dream into a reality.”
So recalls 32 year old Dvorah Marsha, who at the age of seven, walked hundreds of miles with her grandparents, brothers and cousins from her Ethiopian village of Madradgj to the country’s capital of Addis Ababa. Other members of her family arrived from Sudan, and together they overcame extraordinary risks and dangers to immigrate to Israel as part of “Operation Solomon” in 1991. It was there that she was reunited with her father who came to Israel six years earlier as part of “Operation Moses.”
At the age of 11, Dvorah began playing at the Israel Tennis & Education Center in Ashkelon with the youth club Beit Tzipora. That’s when she discovered her love for the game and her desire to learn valuable life skills that the ITEC taught the young people at the center. “As a child, I participated in nearly every sport there was,” Dvorah recalled. “I was very athletic which enabled me to win the Ashkelon Championships in long distance running. But it was tennis and the ITEC that really captured my attention. I quickly realized how much I loved the sport and all the great people at the center who encouraged me to reach for the stars. They taught me to never give up on my dreams. The center became like my second home.”
After her military service as a sports instructor in the Israeli Air Force, Dvorah became a coach at the center and saw just how much she loved teaching others. She also began studying for her degree in Physical Education and later continued her academic pursuits toward a Master’s Degree in Child Development at Bar-Ilan University. Throughout this period, Dvorah credits the ITEC for her success in tennis and in life.
“Tennis and the ITEC gave me great confidence and discipline. It taught me the importance of communications, relationships and working with all kinds of different people.”
More recently Dvorah applied what she learned to be a successful fundraising ambassador for the ITEC in the US, a position she enjoyed for almost a year before heading back to Israel to resume her work and giving back to the children at the center in Ramat Hasharon. She is currently in charge of supervising the tennis instructor courses at the ITEC – Ramat Hasharon and other centers around the country. All this could not have happened without the positive influence of the ITEC.
“The Israel Tennis & Education Centers gave me a framework of commitment and tools for life, such as coping with stress while developing important skills in thinking and concentration. That focus is something I use every day to perform to the best of my abilities. I am extremely grateful for what the ITEC has given me.”