Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Bezeq shalom, how can I help you today?"


In the previous post we talked about the exciting new discovery of beautiful mosaics and a Byzantine monastery at the entrance to Hura, our neighbor to the east.

Yesterday's 23rd annual Meitar March took hundreds of school kids out into the Negev desert surrounding our town and I got to see Hura for the first time, albeit from a distance.
Click on the photo once and then once again and you'll be able to see its several tall minarets and many multi-storey buildings.
Begun in 1989, just a few years after Meitar, Hura is now much bigger than us in area and population.
Israel's Bedouin population doubles every 15 years.

In reading Wikipedia about Hura and about Negev Bedouin I learned that in 2012  Bezeq, Israel's giant telecommunications group, opened a call center to provide assistance to Internet customers. 
Where? -- in the Bedouin village of Hura!
Where exactly?  -- in the mosque!

Al Arabiya News has a nice article and a short video about this. 
Here is part of it:

Because of their traditional, patriarchal lifestyle, persuading husbands and fathers to allow wives and daughters to go to work was not easy and the best way to allay fears was overcome by housing the call center at the mosque.
”The girls felt safe when we told them that they will work under a mosque. They were so happy because a girl feels she is in a safe place, like in her house and her village. Now we have two shifts, morning and evening and the girls work until 23:00, and we could only get this because we operate from the mosque,” said Naifa al-Nabari, vocational coordinator for Rayan Center.
Al-Nabari added that there were plenty of well educated women in Hura and other towns in the area but that until now almost all had become teachers. Working in customer service was a new departure.

A Ynet article adds that "The center is managed and operated by 50 Bedouin women, but it is expected to employ more women in the future. It offers assistance in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian."


Rob the frog said...

How interesting! Never heard of a call center in a mosque.

Dina said...

Rob, well, I guess the mosque building is quite big, so the actual prayer hall must be only a part of it.
One article said the call center was under the mosque.

VP said...

Only a question: how comes that Bedouins spek Russian?

Dina said...

VP, yeah, I also thought that statement by Ynet was strange. I'm looking now for more about the Russian, but I found only this:

"“Hal beemkani mosa’adatuk?” is Arabic for “How can I help you?” That question will also be proposed in Hebrew and Russian by the fifty women who were trained at the Rayan employment center in preparation for the job."

Dina said...

VP, I can only add that when I first started going to the shuk in Beer Sheva many of the Bedouin sellers would weigh my fruit and vegetables and tell me the price in Russian. There are so many Russian immigrants in Beer Sheva who never learned Hebrew. I guess they assumed I was one of them.

William Kendall said...

I would have expected that the influx of Russian immigrants would indeed be the reason. A peculiar place for a call center!

Sara said...

That is so interesting!

Petrea Burchard said...

Great story, Dina. If you think about it, it hasn't taken the Bedouin very long to move forward in this way.

cieldequimper said...

There has to be a first for everything...

It's a lovely view you had!