Nirim was founded by brothers in arms of the late Navy Seals’ Sergeant Major Nir Krichman, who was killed in action in 2002 during an operation that the Navy Seals undertook against terrorists in Nablus. His commander, himself once an at-risk youth, was motivated to create a program that elevates and empowers youth at high risk, and to name it in Nir’s memory – Nirim.
Located in Bustan HaGalil between Akko (Acre) and Nahariya on the northern shore of Israel, the village is a unique residential setting for over one hundred at-risk youth aged 14 -18. The routine in the village is demanding and challenging whilst at the same time supportive, nurturing and inclusive. Our teens live in our boarding school and typically return home on weekends every two weeks. The intensive schedule includes academic studies, several types of therapy, extra-curricular activities, sports and much more.
‘Wilderness Therapy’ is central to life at Nirim – every Tuesday our participants spend a full day hiking and learning outdoor skills. Every six weeks they participate in wilderness hikes of 4-5 days.
Our teens undergo a three-year track (grades 10-12) consisting of a five-stage continuum. The transition from stage to stage is made after completion of a set of different tasks. At the end of each stage there is a graduation ceremony with the whole village community and participants’ families.
“”What I loved most about Nirim was the atmosphere, the songs in the morning, the fun discussions, my team, the support I received and the family atmosphere.”
Nirim in the neighborhoods is a cross community project that works with over 800 youth-at-risk from underprivileged populations in over 23 municipalities across the country. The program focuses on integration into normative frameworks as well as strengthening the family and surrounding community. Our participants have commonly dropped out of school or are in danger of dropping out and have the characteristics of high-risk teens.
The program generally operates in low-socio economic neighborhoods characterized by high crime rates, a high percentage of disconnected and vagrant teens, drug and alcohol abuse and low rates of IDF enrolment. Many of the teens in these neighborhoods are from new-immigrant families.
The program, which works in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Welfare and local authorities, continues to grow and expand every year in its three different programs – boys or girls’ groups, dedicated classes in high schools and youth treatment centers.
Nirim in the Mountains is an agricultural-therapeutic farm in the Golan heights. The unique isolated environment allows Nirim to increase its capacity to work with youth who reach a state of dysfunctional behaviour, are in extreme crisis and cannot cope with the village routine. The farm enables us to help these teens and continue to work with them individually and address their needs. Nirim in the Mountains is designed to hold up to 8 teens at the same time for a personal therapeutic process. The farm provides our
youth with the peace of mind and quiet space they need.
Agriculture is the leading force of our therapeutic approach. Being isolated and spartan, the farm is organic – we grow vegetables and fruit for our own use; we make cheese and dairy products, olive oil and grow free-range chickens for eggs. We consider the environment at every step we take in the farm, using solar power where possible and recycling water and organic refuse.
The physical, outdoor work serves as an opportunity for the teens to be introspective and make better choices.