In response to traditional volunteer programs that have Americans parachuting in and out of countries worldwide with no long-term effects, Masa Israel Journey recently launched two new, integrated volunteer programs that team up American and Israeli volunteers to create sustainable projects in Israel’s underserved periphery.
Through the five-month Yahel Social Change Program, Americans work with Israeli grassroots organizations to create community-driven educational projects in immigrant communities. In the 10-month Ma’ase Olam program, Americans join Israeli peers in their own communities and volunteer with local NGOs.
The Yahel Social Change Program, based in Gedera, launched in 2010 with six North American participants, five whom stayed on for the spring 2011 semester. By teaming up with Ethiopian-Israeli volunteers from Friends by Nature, a local not-for-profit organization that seeks to empower the Ethiopian community in Israel, they are volunteering in academic assistance programs, teaching English and working in community gardens, as well as meeting social activists and learning about issues of immigration, community empowerment and sustainability.
Ma’ase Olam’s inaugural program for North Americans and Israelis will run from September 2011 – June 2012. They will live communally, study Hebrew, receive professional training, work on joint volunteer projects with diverse communities, and learn about the social and cultural complexities of Israeli society.