Archive for : Refugee Resettlement

Spotlight On: Project Hive

This April, Repair the World is teaming up with HIAS, the country’s oldest refugee resettlement agency (it was originally founded in 1881 to assist Jews fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe) for a campaign focused on the current global refugee crisis.

In the lead up to Passover – a holiday that recalls a time when our ancestors wandered in search of a new home – #SupportforRefugees will share the stories of refugees around the world, and offer opportunities to get involved.

We will also be highlighting awesome organizations like Project Hive, which shine a light on the nearly 60 million people around the world who have had to flee their homes because of violence or persecution. Project Hive is changing the way that Americans talk and think about refugees, encouraging them to learn about people’s experiences as refugees, and unlock the potential of US to support and advocate for them.

Join Project Hive, Repair the World, and HIAS all April long for ways that you can make a difference!

Repair Interview: Talia Niederman on Year Course and Women’s Rights in Israel

Young Judea’s Year Course program brings talented and committed high school graduates to Israel for a year of learning, volunteering and discovery. Talia Niederman, an 18-year old from New Jersey and a lifelong participant in Young Judea, recently got back from her gap year in Israel. Needless to say, she had a life-changing experience.

Although she’s super busy this summer working as a counselor for Young Judea’s Camp Tel Yehuda, Niederman took some time to tell Repair the World about her background with service, why she felt compelled to join Year Course, and how she and her fellow YC’ers created a program to help women in need.

What is your background with service and volunteering – is it something you’ve always been passionate about?
Yes, I’ve always thought it was important to incorporate some form of social action into my life. In high school I was very involved with Young Judaea and did a lot of volunteering and service through the movement.

How did you hear about Year Course and what inspired you to participate?
Well I’ve been involved with Young Judaea since I was 10. I think it was around 9th grade that I told my parents I was going on Year Course. They weren’t originally too crazy about the idea. Throughout my time in Young Judea I was always hearing about all the amazing things YCers were doing. Back in the States we would try and parallel them in whatever ways we could. I remember the first event I ever planned was making sock dolls for the Darfuri refugees (a group the Year Course two ahead of me worked with heavily). Hearing all the things I did about my predecessor, I would be crazy not to have gone on Year Course.

What types of programs did you work on while you were in Israel?
I volunteered in a four places over the course of the year. In our Jerusalem section I worked at an after school program for Ethiopian Jews. In Bat Yam I worked at a battered women’s shelter and the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center, and in Arad I volunteered at a foster home. Each of these was roughly three months.

What experience had the most personal impact for you?
The most impactful thing for me was Garin Kol L’Nashim. Six (which eventually turned to seven) of us created this Garin to combat various women’s issues in Israel. It was from the Garin that we got the inspiration to work at the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center and the battered women’s shelter. We also collected 400 toiletry items for a shelter for sex trafficked women, created two education kits for people in America, made t-shirts from which we donated the profit to the battered women’s shelter, and continuously kept a blog.

The Garin not only helped us to help the broader community, but it gave us a forum to discuss various women’s issues with each other. By the end of the year it was me and three others. The four of us really built a wonderful and proactive community together, for which I am extremely proud and grateful.

Find out more about Young Judea’s Year Course program and how you can get involved, here.

Honoring 5 World-Changing Women on International Women’s Day

The inspiring profiles below were originally published on the American Jewish World Service’s website in honor of International Women’s Day (which is celebrating its 100th anniversary today). These women have gone above and beyond to put service at the center of their lives. (To the impressive list below, we could add many world-changing Jewish women – AJWS’ Ruth Messinger, without a doubt being one of them.) Who is your favorite world-changing woman?
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Building Community in India

In this guest post, Emily Berg talks about her service trip to Dharamsala, India on a trip organized by the Hillel of Greater Toronto to help the Tibetan refugees who live there in exile.

I have been back in Canada for almost three months and the magic of India has still not worn off. Daily, I think about the friends I made, the food I ate, the work I did, the lessons I learned, the markets, the monkeys, the cows, the mountains, the spices, the heat, the colors, the rain. The experience has stuck with me in so many ways and continues to affect my actions and decisions as I return to “normal” life.
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Report From the Field: Latest Dispatch from HIAS Volunteer in Kenya

Amy Schwartz, PR/Communications fellow at the HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya (HRTK), is blogging from Kenya this summer for HIAServe and Repair the World. This is her second update, you can read her first post here. Amy will be a fellow at HRTK until the end of August, and will continue to update us from the field.

To begin, check out the mini-documentary about the dreams and struggles of a Jewish youth group in Uganda, the Abayudaya Youth Association.
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Report from the Field: A HIAS Volunteer in Kenya

Amy Schwartz, PR/Communications fellow at the HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya (HRTK), is blogging from Kenya this summer for HIAServe and Repair the World. Amy will be a fellow at HRTK until the end of August, and will continue to update us from the field.

Chapter 1: Karibu To Kenya

Arrival into Nairobi: 13:30 on Monday, the 31st of May to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

See in the distance: Steven, a driver at the HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya, holding my name up boldly and smiling. “Karibu!”, he says.

What is Karibu do you ask?

Swahili for ‘Welcome.’

Okay makes sense; he was waiting for me to arrive for my fellowship with HRTK and wishes me Karibu! But what I found out instantly was Karibu doesn’t just mean the standard. ‘Welcome’ that you might see on signs, storefronts, and border crossings.

Karibu also means ‘you are welcome here’. You are welcome here in Kenya. Karibu! A greeting not only to say hello, but that I was wanted here in Kenya. For a moment, I was almost confused! And it wasn’t jet lag.
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Young Judeans Reach Out to Israel’s Sudanese Refugees

Young Judea’s Year Course – a nine-month program for recent high school graduates who want to immerse themselves in learning, cultural exchange and service in Israel – is an increasingly popular way for students to spend their “gap year” between graduating high school and starting college. There are numerous program options that allow students to tailor their trip to their interests. And then there are students like Noah Berman and Sean Macdonald who start their own.

A year prior to starting Year Course, Berman and Macdonald participated in a Young Judea summer program Machon, where they were exposed to many facets of life in Israel, including the community of Sudanese and Darfurian refugees living in Israel. Inspired by the plight of this community, many of whom have faced discrimination and poverty throughout their lives, they and a group of other students decided to create an extra volunteer track for Year Course participants.

The result was Garin Tzedek, a program that engaged more than 50 Year Course volunteers in working with the refugee community. According to Berman, there are approximately 20,000-25,000 African refugees currently living in Israel, of which 35-45% are Sudanese or Darfuri. They primarily live in Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, Eilat, Be’er Sheva and Arad (where the Year Course participants primarily worked.) During their year, the volunteers taught English to members of the community, helped to set up a health clinic, fundraised and raised awareness across Israel about the community’s needs.
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Report from the Field: A final dispatch from Haiti

Micha Odenheimer, founding director of Tevel b’Tzedek, is blogging from Haiti this week for Repair the World. For the past two months, nine volunteers from Tevel b’Tzedek have been working to support the communities devestated by the January 12 earthquake, running the only school in the Petitionville refugee camp. Read the previous post here and check back tomorrow for more.

Tevel b’Tzedek works in teams. Although there are volunteer organizations that believe that it is best to send one person at a time into the field to work in local organizations, and I understand and respect their reasoning, we have a different approach—perhaps influenced by the Israeli/Jewish experience. We think that teamwork is essential, that building community among the volunteers (as well, of course, within the target population) is a crucial party of the volunteering experience. Israelis and Jews as well know how to create community—and how to draw strength from what community has to offer.
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Report from the Field: Making the Next Move in Haiti

Micha Odenheimer, founding director of Tevel b’Tzedek, is blogging from Haiti this week for Repair the World. For the past two months, nine volunteers from Tevel b’Tzedek have been working to support the communities devestated by the January 12 earthquake, running the only school in the Petitionville refugee camp. Read the previous post here and check back tomorrow for more.

On the road back from Jacmel to Port au Prince, I talk to Ted, a young man we brought along to translate as we visited rural villages and the earthquake affected area outside the capital city in order to figure out what our next move in Haiti should be. Ted is a Haitian immigrant to the United States—he had a green card, but no citizenship, and moved back to Haiti several months before the earthquake after some trouble with the law.
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