In June 2016, Wafa'a Eben-Beri, a graduate of the first cohort of the Mandel Program for Local Leadership in Beer Sheva, received the President's Award for Excellence in a Volunteer Organization for her work as director of "The Tent," AJEEC-NISPED's Arab Bedouin Volunteer Center.
The Arab Bedouin Volunteer Center at AJEEC-NISPED (the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation — Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development) was established in 2002 to foster community responsibility and active citizenship in Arab-Bedouin society in the Negev by encouraging ommunity members to volunteer. Under Wafa'a Eben-Beri's direction, approximately 1,300 men and women between the ages of 15 and 25 participate in the Volunteer Tent program. Their work benefits approximately 50,000 children, teenagers, and adults per year. The Tent's programs promote social change and assist in the empowerment and development of the community as an inseparable part of civil society in Israel.
The President's Award for Excellence in a Volunteer Organization is given each year to selected volunteers who have done outstanding work to benefit society. This year, the office of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin dedicated the award to volunteers who work for understanding, dialogue, tolerance, and partnership among the various sectors of Israeli society.
In response to receiving the award, Wafa'a wrote: "The Tent has operated for more than a decade, promoting volunteerism among young Arabs and Jews and giving rise to a generation of leaders through true partnership and community work among both communities. Receiving the President's Award is an important and meaningful milestone for the continuation of this special work for both communities. The team members who lead the programs and the volunteers are a beacon that lights the way for all of us and strengthens the importance of this work, particularly during a time of tension between the communities in Israel."