06 Jul Engaging in Ethical and Sustainable Volunteering in Ghana
Adina always knew she wanted to travel back to the African continent. Born in South Africa, Adina, 24, grew up and currently lives in Toronto, Canada. After completing her master’s degree at the University of Toronto, COVID hit and she found herself living back at home. What helped get her through the pandemic was dreaming about what she would do and where she would go when she had the freedom to do so – and The Jewish Agency’s Project TEN program came to mind.
“While I’ve always felt compelled to travel back to Africa, I didn’t know in what capacity I’d be able to do that. I stumbled across Project Ten a number of years ago but had sort of put the idea aside because it didn’t make sense at the time,” remembered Adina. “But then COVID got a bit better so I signed up to volunteer at Project TEN’s Ghana center from September-December 2021. I left my job, didn’t renew my lease, and packed a backpack full of t-shirts, sunscreen, and mosquito repellant. But I really had no idea what I was walking into.”
Project TEN is The Jewish Agency’s service-learning program that promotes social resilience in developing communities in Israel and around the globe. Volunteers are young Jewish adults from all over the world who work alongside locals while engaging in a global dialogue on Jewish identity and values with their peers.
In Ghana, Adina prepared and taught lessons to local students in seventh and eighth grades covering concepts such as identity, advocacy, selfhood and community, etc, working in schools in Winneba, a city 60 kilometers from the capital of Accra. Adina also participated in group bonding activities with her fellow volunteers and educational sessions about the region, Jewish values and more.
During her three months in Ghana, Adina started a podcast to reflect on and share her experiences and adventures. On it, she spoke to local educators, leaders, students, radio hosts and fellow volunteers, discussing topics ranging from African hairstyles to child trafficking to women’s rights and beyond.
Towards the end of her time in Ghana, many people asked Adina what she intended to bring home with her to Canada – from daily practices to lessons learned.
“I would rather share the stories of Ghanaian people. I would rather you see the liveliness of the people of Ghana instead of mimicking the way they live their lives,” Adina would reply. “So that is what I am bringing back to my life of privilege here in the city. Stories and memories of people who have left their mark on me for good.”
And her Project TEN experience definitely left a lasting impression on Adina – so much so that she intends to return to Ghana at some point in the future.
“Project TEN really lives up to its description of ethical and sustainable volunteering. The program engages the local community to ensure its ideas will be well received and useful and the kids love our programming. It’s clear our work really matters,” shared Adina. “I felt an instant connection to the land and the people and found Project Ten to be a great opportunity to participate in valuable community service.”