Jewish Agency Sending ‘Jewish Peace Corps’ Volunteers to Distressed Communities

1, 000 Young People to Serve Communities in South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru, and Israel

Project TEN - Ghana ISRAEL-AFRICA Jewish  volunteer The Jewish Agency

 

The Jewish Agency for Israel has started recruiting young people from Israel and around the world to volunteer in distressed communities in Africa, South America, and Israel, as part of the organization’s Project TEN program.

A launch event was hosted by Israeli Consul General in New York Ido Aharoni and was attended by dozens of Jewish community leaders, diplomats, philanthropists, Jewish Agency representatives, and former participants in the program.

In recent weeks, hundreds of students at top American universities have participated in on-campus information sessions hosted by Project TEN in order to familiarize them with volunteer opportunities at the three international centers currently operating in Winneba, Ghana; Gondar, Ethiopia; and Oaxaca, Mexico.

The volunteers may also choose to serve at the two Israeli centers in the southern city of Arad and Kibbutz Harduf in northern Israel, where they will run programs to empower Bedouin youth, new immigrants, at-risk teens, and individuals with special needs.

Project TEN was created by The Jewish Agency three years ago and offers young people from Israel and around the world the opportunity to live together in distressed communities and realize the Jewish values of tzedakah (social justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) by helping empower local residents.
Each participant receives a tailor-made volunteer program of several weeks or months in length, depending on their availability and preferences. Together, participants volunteer in educational, agricultural, and health-related initiatives, working together with local organizations and Jewish groups active in the area.

The ultimate goal is to develop local residents’ leadership skills and empower them to create models for sustainable development well after the volunteers return to their home countries.

The volunteers themselves return to their communities with a greater drive to engage in local activism and become involved in Jewish life.

In Ghana, Project TEN volunteers serve in the fishing town of Winneba, where they work with local residents and the fishermen’s children.

They run an educational center in which local children receive enrichment classes in a range of subjects and a mobile computer lab that provides digital knowledge to students whose prior exposure to computers was limited to sketches of keyboards on paper.

The volunteers also work in the fishing village of Akosua, which maintains some of the world’s most ancient fishing practices, teaching local children in a coconut hut.

In Mexico, volunteers serve in Oaxaca, where a series of natural disasters have prompted the creation of a Project TEN center to help local residents improve their preparedness and raise their standard of living.

The center is run in partnership with the Mexican Jewish organization CADENA, which specializes in serving communities struck by national disasters.

The volunteers work in dozens of far-flung, isolated communities spread across the vast, mountainous region.

Project TEN Director Yarden Zornberg notes that two additional volunteer centers are set to open in the coming year.

One will be hosted by the Jewish community of Durban, South Africa, where volunteers will work with local tribespeople, and the other will be located in Cusco, Peru, offering backpackers the opportunity to combine their treks with volunteerism.

According to Zornberg, more than one thousand volunteers are expected to serve in all seven Project TEN centers, engaging in activism over extended periods and realizing core Jewish values in the process.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: “Through Project TEN, The Jewish Agency is creating a real opportunity for young Jewish people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves – to better their world through common work with young people like themselves from Israel and around the world. In so doing, Project TEN connects these young people’s vision of a better future with their Jewish roots. Making this wonderful initiative happen is yet another way for us to concretize Jewish and Zionist values.”

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