“Because I Care”
I made aliyah from Manhattan nine years ago after having visited Israel for the first time nine months earlier. I was a senior and a widow and I had left my family and friends in the United States.
In Israel I found the contrasts stark and yet I felt at home in a way I had never felt before. In the Holy Land I was seeing how the years of struggle had produced an apathetic disregard for the environment.
When I moved to Tel Aviv I saw trash, graffiti and dog litter, but I also saw the beauty underneath and all around me. I was saddened but not disheartened. I believe apathy is a symptom that breeds disrespect. I had seen it before in New York City and I knew then what I know now, that awareness resulting in caring is the cure.
In New York I had been involved in Mayor Giuliani’s “I Love New York” campaign and I made the decision that something had to be done to improve the unsavoury and unacceptable situation in the place where I live now. Instead of stepping in it I stepped out into my destiny and six years ago I founded the “We Can Do It Better” campaign, an Israeli non-profit, tax deductible and non-political organization.
We began with one symptom of disrespect, the plague of dog litter all over Israel. We developed the unique “Saki-Kaki” boxes and bags to make it easy to eliminate the excuses. Starting in Tel Aviv we placed these eye-catching displays in public areas.
The response was amazing. The provision of the “Saki-Kaki” bag distribution system resulted in changing the negative behavior of ‘dumping and ditching’ to the positive behavior of ‘pooping and scooping’ almost effortlessly. We had found a way to contribute to the solution of a problem that had once been considered insoluble.
The Saki-Kaki program began as a grassroots neighborhood association with the goal of cleaning up the one street where I lived in Tel Aviv. Our solution is currently solving this same problem in over 38 cities and expanding exponentially. Over five million bags were used in 2007.
I was honored to receive the “Woman of the Year 2007” award from Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, for our work in improving the environment, education and social activities. I am currently serving on a municipal board which aims to bring about positive changes in Tel Aviv.
The growing success of our first program made us realize the need for formal education as the long term and sustainable solution to many environmental as well as social problems. We knew we had to begin with the children. Our destiny rests in the hands of our children. We believe that leaders of the future need to begin their training in preschools.
Our newest program “Because I Care” is a dynamic educational program designed to start with children aged 4-6 and, as more funds become available, to develop age appropriate curricula to include all grades up through high school. Starting in the kindergartens we teach the characteristics of leadership using dogs as well as the environment as teaching tools. The Karev Foundation is sponsoring our program.
Our mission is: to see our youth empowered by the belief that they possess leadership qualities and can make a positive difference in our country and in the world; to see our people demonstrate initiative, leadership, respect and caring for others and our country in their daily lives and to see our children become Israel’s future goodwill ambassadors here and abroad. We hope to see the image of Israelis improve throughout the world.
Our goal is; to teach our children to become more aware of their surroundings, to sensitise and encourage them to become more proactive and to help them to understand and believe that Israel is their inheritance and it is part of their responsibility to love and protect their country.
Our curriculum teaches seven subjects: responsibility, respect /disrespect, leadership, initiative, problem solving, teamwork and serving others with the aim of bringing about positive behaviour while countering apathy, negativity and complaining.
Our program is considered transformational because we are developing activism, personal responsibility and social involvement as well as core values such as respect and caring.
Anat Raskin, principal of the Keshet School in Kfar Vradim said, “This program is bringing a fresh spirit of Zionism to the land.”
We have published a book called “Watch out - there’s Kaki.” The book is entertaining, a simple true story for all ages, with a very strong message. It is the simplicity of the story that makes it so powerful and leads to positive action. This book serves as the foundation for our training program.
We are in the beginning stages of developing a short animated film of our book to serve as a public service film in cinemas as well as on television.
When I started six years ago I never dreamed that my idea to clean up a street would become a national campaign and Saki-Kaki would become a household word in many places.
Cell 050 754 5917; Office 03 516 5510
P.O. Box 4169, Tel Aviv 61041