Can you imagine a world without extreme poverty? Tzedek can. They, and their army of volunteers, work tiresely towards such a goal.
Tell us about Tzedek.
Dan: Tzedek works with partners, projects and communities abroad, providing direct support to local people so they can help themselves. We seek to raise awareness, educate and encourage Jews to recognise, understand, and act on to their Jewish responsibilities concerning extreme poverty around the world. This is done through grants and capacity development to they can run their organisations more effectively.
Dan: I was involved in a youth movement Habonim Dror where I learned values of Tzedaka (charity) and Tikun Olam (healing the world). On a personal note, I was also inspired by my parents, who were always informative on the values they passed on. Originally from Cape Town, I grew up well aware of the challenges faced by the population in emerging countries. I have been working for Tzedek for four years now.
Leah: I was working for a non-Jewish charity, and one day as I was in a synagogue for Passover, I saw a leaflet promoting Tzedek. I applied and met with Katie, the previous volunteer coordinator, and I started volunteering. When Katie decided to leave her job, she made it sound so enjoyable, I applied and have been working for Tzedek for 7 months.
How many volunteers are currently working with you?
Dan: We couldn’t exist without the help of the 120 volunteers based in the UK and we currently have sent approximately 20 volunteers to emerging countries such as Ghana and India.
What kind of volunteering opportunities does Tzedek offer?
Leah: We offer a range of placements, from:
- summer volunteering programmes where 19 to 26 year olds get involved in projects in Ghana and India
- a 1 year graduate programme (including 7 month in the UK and 5 months oversees)
- and summer internships in our West Hampstead J-Hub based offices
We also need volunteers to monitor grant applications, give educational talks, and be involved in our fundraising and communications.
What is the best part of your day?
Dan: I love my job! Everyday I work on something different. I appreciate the variety of projects we are involved in. I am part of a small, but dynamic team and I get to meet many different people.
Leah: I get really motivated when I interview people who are passionate about supporting others. I love helping people run campaigns that have a positive impact on others. I also love being part of the Tzedek team and meeting many various people from different backgrounds. It’s great to be apart of a dynamic and passionate team!!
What events have you got planned for the remainder of 2011?
Dan: We are organising an environmental cycle ride from London to Cambridge on June 26th raising funds for environmental projects aboard. It will be a joyous ride, giving you the perfect opportunity to breathe the fresh air of the beautiful English countryside!
Leah: We will also organise a quiz in June, another family bike ride in September and a reunion of volunteers that have gone oversees. We were also involved in a campaign with Mike Freer MP for Finchley and Golders Green constituencies. As you can see, we have been keeping very busy.
How JVN helped you work with volunteers?
Leah: JVN has a very useful website that lists opportunities and helps me recruit volunteers. I have also been taking part in the volunteer coordinator forums and training days JVN has organised, providing me with invaluable advice and support through the network of Jewish Organisations taking part. JVN also recognises the amazing contribution volunteers provide the community by organising last year’s Volunteering Award.