A drive to recruit young Jewish women and men for volunteer positions in various poor and developing regions around the world was launched in New York, as part of the Jewish Agency's Ten ("give" in Hebrew. -Ed.) program.
The project's aim is to recruit 3,000 volunteers, who will be dispersed to three locations around the world: Ghana, Mexico, and Ethiopia. Others could also be recruited to work at the operating centers in Arad and Harduf.
The launch event was held under the auspices of the Consul General of Israel in New York Ido Aharoni, with many representatives of Jewish communities, diplomats, donors, Jewish Agency emissaries, and young people who had previously served in the volunteer centers all in attendance.
Several meetings with potential volunteers have already been held, including with Jewish students in leading US universities. Whoever wishes to volunteer to work as part of the Ten program, which has existed for three years, can choose to volunteer in Gondar, Ethiopia, Oaxaca, Mexico, or Winneba, Ghana. The project offers young Jews from Israel and abroad a chance to live together in centers located in disadvantaged areas, and to promote the values of giving and social responsibility by helping to empower the local civilian population.
"The volunteer centers give young people from Jewish communities and Israel the opportunity to work together towards a better world and take part in something bigger. They realize the Zionist and Jewish values," said Jewish Agency Chairperson Natan Sharansky.
Young people who are recruited into the volunteer centers will receive a tailor-made volunteer plan for several weeks or months. They will help local populations in the areas of education, agriculture and health, and work in cooperation with local Jewish organizations operating in the region. The goal is to develop leadership skills in marginalized populations and enhance their ability to produce independent models of sustainable development even after the Jewish volunteers leave the area.
One of the centers is located in the remote jungles of Oaxaca. After a devastating hurricane hit the region, it was decided to establish an international volunteer center that will work to strengthen the durability of local residents and improve their quality of life. The Center works in conjunction with the Jewish-Mexican organization Cadena which specializes in helping areas stricken by natural disasters. Dozens of volunteers are working in remote and isolated communities spread over a wide, hilly and bushy area.
Ten's project manager, Jordan Zornberg, said that in the coming year the project's staff expect to open two additional centers: One in the heart of the Jewish community in Durban, South Africa - where volunteers will serve the country's tribal regions - and the other in Cuzco, Peru – which will offer backpackers a chance to incorporate volunteer work with their trips to South America. According to Zornberg, more than a thousand volunteers from Israel and abroad are expected to be absorbed into the various volunteer centers. They are expected to work in long-term positions, combining global social activism and Jewish Values.
Those who wish to participate in the program can apply here: Tenprogram.org/apply