The American Jewish World Service (AJWS) offers individual and group service programs for Jews interested in traveling to foreign countries to volunteer for grassroots social change projects. Its mission statement outlines the approach: "AJWS is an international development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education, AJWS fosters civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship within the Jewish community.
Individual Service Programs
Two volunteer programs are open that include service with grassroots organizations in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Both working and retired professionals can join the Volunteer Corps, which includes two to 12 month-long placements. Among the skills often needed are strategic and business planning, medical and public health training, fundraising, computer training and community organizing. Recent college graduates willing to volunteer for nine to 12 months can get a World Partners Fellowship. These are matched to the young adult's studies, skills and interests.
Group Services Programs
On these programs, Jewish groups live and work in rural communities, participating in sustainable development projects. They are guided by community-based organizations. Summer programs are open to ages 16-24, which include volunteer work in rural areas of developing countries. Once returning home, participants remain involved through retreats, speaking engagements and additional volunteer service.
For More Information About AJWS
Visit AJWS and click on Service Programs.
Where to Find More Volunteer Vacations
VolunTourism - combining traditional travel with volunteer work - is a rapidly growing trend because combining a vacation or trip abroad with volunteering on local projects is one way you can immerse yourself in local cultures and make a difference. Are you among the one-quarter of the travelers queried in the Voice of the Traveler survey by the Travel Industry Association who said they were currently interested in taking a volunteer or service-based vacation? No matter whether you're in your 20s, a baby boomer (the group expressing the strongest interest), or parents who want to introduce their children to other cultures, there's a company offering volunteer vacations for you.
These trips and experiences are as close as building homes in New Orleans or a far away as helping in orphanages in Romania or elephant camps in Africa. To see a list of organizations that offer volunteer travel trips and vacations (where you spend a few days of a trip volunteering and explore a new country the rest) click on Top Sources for Volunteer Vacations.