BENEFITING: American Jewish World Service
AJWS provides unique opportunities to learn, work, serve and travel in Africa, Asia and the Americas. By partnering with grassroots community-based organizations, volunteers experience firsthand the power of local people effecting change.
AJWS volunteer service programs focus on building collaborative relationships between Jewish volunteers and NGOs in developing countries, either through individual or group service experiences. All AJWS service programs draw on Judaism’s religious and cultural traditions to provide guidance regarding the responsibility to pursue global justice. By integrating service with text study and dialogue about the Jewish values that inform this work, participants return committed and passionate about their role as global citizens in creating a more just world.
In February 2002, Seth's sister Danya and 9 other Jewish students from the University of Toronto went to El Salvador over our spring break in order to work in a rural community - a trip organized by AJWS and a local El Salvadorian NGO. Here's what she had to say about this fantastic experience:
We lived in a small village, where we were provided with a local a family who fed us our meals, while we slept together in a dorm-style building.
We woke up very early in the morning and engaged in a couple different types of labour in order to assist the community. One of the jobs was to start building the foundation for a new home, as many homes had been destroyed in a recent earthquake. We also planted trees and built chicken coops. The village had only dirt roads and many homes were just one big open room where a whole family would sleep and did not have windows or doors.
We learned a lot about the country, especially the political and economic situation, from members of the NGO who facilitated workshops when we were not working. We also went to San Salvador, the Capital, in order to see the other side of the spectrum and learn about the "haves", as well as go to some museums to learn more about the history of the country.
I learned a lot on this trip about El Salvador, Central American politics, and international relations. As a secular Jew, I appreciated that even though AJWS is a Jewish organization, the program was based on "tikkun olam" (the Jewish concept of healing the world) and religion was not important. This trip inspired me to want to see more of Central America, which I did in 2005, and spent 3 months there, which led me to wantto see even more, which is what I did in 2009 and spent 6 months in South America.
Please support this organization which does so much good in our world. And watch the video. It's HILARIOUS.