US-based Jewish Charity Goes to India

The American Jewish World Service is looking for participants for its philanthropic study tour to India in early November.

The organization offers North Americans the chance to meet and support leaders from local grassroots movements in Mumbai, Kolkata as well as rural villages.

The second most populous country in the world has made headlines in the past years after a number sexual assault cases were reported, calling into question women’s rights.

According to the World Bank, 33 per cent of Indians live below the national poverty line, with per capita income averaged at $1,570 US per year.

AJWS already makes grants to 32 human rights organizations in India focusing specifically on the rights of women and sexual minorities and improving access to resources for marginalized communities. Organizations receive about $12,000 to $30,000 in funding from AJWS each year.

The trip charges a fee of $5,300 excluding airfare, most of which goes into funding local initiatives, and runs from Nov. 2 to 9.

Participants will visit the Mumbai-based women’s rights collective Awaaz-e-Niswaan, the support organization for low-caste and disadvantaged communities Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra, as well as historic landmarks,

AJWS offers similar study trips to Nicaragua in October and Mexico next summer and is involved in ongoing advocacy programs in Darfur and the US.

Founded in 1985, the mission of AJWS and other global Jewish charity programs, like Ve’ahavta in Canada, is based on the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, which means ‘repairing the world.’ The phrase suggests a shared responsibility in taking care of the world and is often linked to social justice.

“The question of whom and how to help is urgent. Family first, but not only family. Helping outside your family is part of defining what kind of family you are,” wrote Rabbi David Wolpe about his experience with AJWS in Thailand.

“The aim of AJWS is to help non-Jews as Jews.”


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