The Kenya Peace Project is a short term VolunTour opportunity which will be offered to young Jewish adults (ages 23 -35) that are passionate about global travel and Jewish social action. We are looking to provide a hands on and effective volunteer exerperience where Jewish young adults learn about social action through a Jewish lens which will affect their Jewish identity. The goal of the project is to utilize an existing peace building project in Kenya, and to help develop the programs and successes by inserting young Jewish professionals from Toronto into the activities. The Youth Ambassadors for Peace is a program that was created in May 2009 as a reaction to the post-election violence that swept across Kenya in 2008 leaving approximately 1300 dead and more than 1 million displaced. The purpose of the organization is to encourage youths on the ground in Kenya to develop a grassroots movement and grassroots projects to try and tackle negative societal elements like tribalism and youth idleness. This project is working, in particular in the Western part of Kenya, with the Kisii, Luo and Kalenjin tribes. The successes of the project to date have been phenomenal. To date, we have an annual soccer tournament that brings together these different tribes through sports. We now have 9 peace clubs in various high schools that attempt to teach peace from a young age and get these students to volunteer to spread positive messages. We have a youth centre and office in a village called Matongo, and a drama club that performs skits, recites poetry, and sings songs about peace and the effects of war in Kenya. We also have a new chicken farm, in which we buy chickens and donate the eggs produced to community members who have recently been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. It is a way to give back to this afflicted part of the community, and show these most vulnerable people that they have the support of the youths. We want to expand these projects. The hospitality and welcoming nature of the people in Kenya makes it a perfect place for young professionals to come and help develop these programs. These professionals will come from a variety of backgrounds and have many different specialties and experiences, and it is these traits that will enable the project to develop grow and succeed further. Kenya will be an unforgettable experience which will allow for young Jewish adults to be engaged in a new and creative initiative within the Jewish community.
A survey conducted in the summer of 2010 by UJA’s Community Connect suggests that young Jewish adults are seeking communal Jewish experiences. This will allow them to travel to new and exciting places in the world with other Jews in a meaningful way. This was one of the top rated needs of survey respondents and we believe this voluntour trip will meet all those expectations and more. We also believe that a new avenue of engagement needs to occur within our community and we trust that this voluntour trip will fill a void that is being felt by young Jewish adults. We currently have a committee made up of 20 young adults from diverse backgrounds that have shown interest in the broadest sense of global travel and social action. The target population of this voluntour trip are young Jewish adults in Toronto ages 23 -35 and the need in the community is three fold; Travel, connection and Tikkun Olam. The first need is to fill the desire of young Jews to travel and volunteer in a meaningful and Jewish manner. The second need will strive to create a movement of young Jewish adults connecting through Tikkun Olam locally and globally. The third need will be to help foster an atmosphere of peace and understanding among the youths in Kenya. This project is a perfect chance for those who are interested in peace building, positive volunteer work, and traveling to interesting places in the world to make a lasting difference.
Needs on the ground:
There is a great deal of hope that is being built up in Kenya at the moment and there are lots of people on board and willing to give their utmost efforts to ensure that this project is a success. They do however require assistance from people abroad, but the type of assistance is specific. The point of this project is not to go into a village and impose a peace from the outside, using our values or our beliefs, since this would never work. People from abroad are welcomed in Kenya with open arms, and are seen as having the ability to bring people together. What we want to do is bring young Jewish professionals with a variety of experiences, backgrounds and passions, and get them to work with the group of youths whom we already have engaged, and develop new ideas to help the youths there spread positive, peaceful messages within the youth population, and come up with ideas regarding both youth idleness and tribalism in Kenya.
At the moment, $1.00 is approximately 92 Kenyan Shillings, and in the rural villages where we will be operating, a cup of tea costs approximately 5 shillings. This means that a small bit of money can go a long way, especially in terms of a trip like this. The amount of money requested can therefore assist with a number of different trips for young professionals in Kenya, since the costs are relatively low once on the ground, but the manpower associated with such a trip, and the creativity and ideas offered by the participants will be invaluable and extremely helpful.
To engage young Jewish adults in Toronto by offering a unique opportunity to create real social change through global travel and volunteerism
Objectives include the following:
To enrich the lives of Jewish Torontonians through hands on Tikkun Olam and experiential Jewish programming
To create a volunteer opportunity as a means of engagement that will attract a niche group of young Jewish adults looking to travel and volunteer.
To create cross cultural connections between Kenyan and Canadian communities
To facilitate peace building initiatives in Kenya
Success of the project will be 3 fold.
Impact on community in Kenya - In order for us to believe that this project is a success and should be continued, we will be analyzing the impact on the communities in Kenya. This will be achieved by surveying members of the rural communities and documenting their responses. Questions will include: Did these workshops provide sufficient and understandable knowledge to the people in each community? Did they learn about another culture and people? Will these workshops lessen violence at the next election? Is there a greater awareness of peace and will the peace initiatives that help facilitate communication between tribes be put into use? We will use the data from these inquires to measure the success of the experience in Kenya.
Impact on volunteers –The participants will be surveyed throughout the duration of the trip and interviewed upon the completion of the program to assess the impact of this type of volunteer trip. Our assessment will be based on the following criteria: expectations, Jewish content, organization, impact on the Kenyan rural community and impact on personal growth. It will be extremely important for the organizers to know what was successful and what areas need to be improved. The overall impact, we understand is subjective to each volunteer however, we will be able to gage whether a voluntour trip is seen as worthwhile and necessary in the lives of young Jewish adults or not.
Impact on Toronto community - Success will also be measured by the involvement of participants in the community upon their return from Kenya. The staff and facilitators of the group will be responsible for creating follow up activities in order for participants to learn about the resources available to them in the Toronto Jewish community. The hope is that these volunteers will arrive back to their home city engaged and ignited to get involved in areas of the community that best suits their lifestyles. We will strive to offer all resources necessary for participants to create their own social action projects in Toronto.
The breadth and depth of skill sets provided by the Jewish Venture Philanthropist Fund will be invaluable to the success of this project. This initiative would benefit greatly from several areas of expertise that exist within the JVPF. We would welcome the opportunity work with those involved in marketing, travel, Jewish education, social enterprise, identity building and communications. (Specifically online social and digital media).
Q1: Fall- Marketing and recruitment
Q2: Winter- Pre trip orientation- Sessions 1-3.
Q3: spring - Group event and fundraiser- Pre trip sessions 4-6
Q4: Summer- Trip departure- Projection June 2012
Pre trip Orientations:
1) Social Action through a Jewish Lens
2) Leadership development
3) Learn how to facilitate peace building workshops
4) Kenya and cultural differences
5) Jewish community involvement in Toronto
6) Pre –Trip orientation
Exit Strategy-We will still continue with the project once the grant money has been used.
The hope is that this project will become self sustainable and grow within the community once a successful pilot project and proper profile for the program has been established.
Alana Kayfetz- UJA's Community Connect- The Projects Dvision
Jodi Katzeff- Canada Israel Experience- Israel and Overseas Volunteerism
Since the program will be made up of young professionals, there is no need for too many staff to assist as people will be quite capable themselves. I will likely be joining the group as a coordinator on the ground. The other staff involved will be responsible for the Jewish programming and are imperative to this project to ensure collaboration with the community in Toronto, and the continuity of the project for years to come.
This trip will be managed through Canada Israel Experience and UJA’s Community Connect. Jodi Katzeff started working at Canada Israel Experience eight months ago and has been delegated to create an Overseas Tikkun Olam initiative under her portfolio. Jodi has worked in the Jewish community for over six years. Her resume includes organizations such as The House, The Bronfman Israel Experience Centre in Montreal and Canadian Young Judaea. Her experience leading Birthright trips and passion for overseas travel along with her knowledge and understanding of the Canadian Jewish community and informal Jewish education will be extremely valuable as we mold the pieces of the voluntour trip together
Alana Kayfetz has recently returned to the community in Toronto where she currently holds the position as Young Adult Volunteer & Engagement Manager for UJA's Community Connect at United Jewish Federation of Toronto. Her infectious energy and her passion for Jewish identity building will be an asset to this project. She has an abundance of experience working within the Jewish community from leading Birthright Buses to her role as Executive Director of Hillel Ottawa where she successfully created many projects similar to this one.
Adam has been to Kenya three times and is well connected with people in the different villages and also in Nairobi. He has been involved with this project from the start, and has plans for how to take it into the future. The key is to ensure that the right numbers of people are also invested in the voluntourism project to ensure that it stays active within the Toronto Jewish community, and that it is possible to continuously find participants who will be able to attend other subsequent trips.
Innovative- After researching global travel and social action tourism, it came to our attention that an idea of this nature is completely new to the Canadian Jewish community. What exists right now are many for -profit travel companies that are offering social action projects in global communities for a very high price. Other non- profit Jewish organizations that offer similar trips to our idea are primarily for students ages 18 to 23 and are usually advertised as an alternative spring break trip. We are looking to create a short term voluntour trip through a centralized Jewish agency that attracts young Jewish adults (ages 23 -35) that are passionate about global travel and Jewish social action. We are looking to provide them with hands on and effective volunteering while they learn about social action through a Jewish lens and their Jewish identity.
Sustainability- This voluntour trip will be completely self sustainable by its 3rd year. Once a successful pilot project has been completed, we will have a deeper understanding of the logistics and realistic cost structure of this mission. With that knowledge we will be able to find ways to cut costs. Also, once the pilot is completed, major costs like marketing and recruitment will decline as all the initial marketing materials would have already been created. We also expect ground costs to lessen as contacts would have been established and relationships made with various ground providers. Speculating into the 3rd year of the mission, income revenue from participants’ costs and pre event fundraisers will still be the major contributors to most of the mission’s larger expenses. If costs are still too high for volunteers, we would encourage and provide resources for participants to fundraise for themselves.
Scalability- The Kenya peace project voluntour trip will be piloted in the summer of 2012 with 15-20 participants. After such time, the project will look to increase its numbers and frequency. Our goal is to have 2 trips a year (summer and winter) with 20 -25 participants on each mission. The following are a few ideas that will propel The Kenya Peace Project in the next stage of success. Firstly, we are hoping to overcome many cultural barriers and even be able to get to a point where we can bring people from Kenya over to Canada to create a cultural exchange or Mifgash with past participants and of course build momentum and awareness about the Project for new volunteers and donors. Secondly, once the Kenya peace project has sufficiently become effective in Kenya, we will then have the necessary knowledge and resources to tailor these peace building initiatives to suit the needs of other global communities that are suffering under violence and strife. The long term vision of this mission is to strive to create and successfully implement peace building projects in many communities around the world, where young Jewish Canadian professionals will be able to visit and volunteer.
Replicable – This mission is replicable, we have already been in touch with communities such as Montreal as they have shown interest in expanding the project into Quebec. We do not foresee any difficulties in expanding this project to a national level. Once the pilot has been successfully completed, we will be happy to take the proposal to other cities in Canada and see if there is an interest in partnership. There are many positive aspects in making this a national initiative including greater reach of potential participants and donors as well a wider span for awareness and national Jewish community cohesiveness and involvement.
Leverage- In order to generate leverage and find other investors for this project, we will aim to grow our alumni base and strive to create a Board with past participants that have a vested interest in the continued success of this project. This alumni board’s main functions will be to assist in the continuity of the trip, which includes fundraising for future missions, creating proper follow up Tikkun Olam projects in hometowns and assist in the PR and marketing of the Kenya Peace Project to gain a broader spectrum of interest from the community at large. When the project reaches a national level in Canada, we will have a broader reach of donors and interested investors.