My mind is still in Ethiopia

During the recent holiday break from school, 20 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 from the Montreal Jewish community and from Montreal’s partnership community of Beer Sheva/Bnei Shimon participated in a short-term service program in Ethiopia. This humanitarian mission was organized by Federation CJA, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).

Their amazing and life-changing adventure was documented daily with photos and a blog available in full at

Here are some highlights – click on the author’s name to read the full entry:

Allie – January 3

So today, we finally got to ETHIOPIA after about 24 hours of travelling and wow… I cannot even describe to you what we have seen and done in the past day. There are literally homeless people and beggars on the street by the dozen times 6800. They use children to try and make u feel bad… sometimes the kids aren’t even theirs!

Tamar – January 4

We’re officially on our way to Gondar!!  Time to get our hands dirty and do some real hands-on work! Who’s ready? WE ARE.

Elya – January 4

We went to one of the newly built schools and assisted with de-worming as well as eye check ups. We helped give out the pills, reassure the kids, play with them, communicate with them, entertain them, etc. It was amazing to do Tikun Olam, and to see their sincere appreciation, and making us feel like “celebrities”. Truly amazing experience! To think that is only day 1 out of 11 days in Ethiopia is just – !!!

Jordana – January 4

We were able to build about 3-4 layers of brick (cinder blocks). Tomorrow the rest of the group will work more on completing some of this. They expect that it will take 2 months to complete the school house (including 3 classrooms).

Talia – January 6

The desperation and the poverty in this country cannot go unnoticed and the fact that our physical labour was valuable made us feel as though we were truly making a difference.  The school that we had visited the first (day) was such a beneficial addition to the surrounding community—we were about to change a community in Gondar forever.

Elie & Shanie – January 6

We were standing in front of the entrance of the school where hundreds of students welcomed us in their pink school-shirts (boys too) and smiles. Through a “speed dating” activity we had the opportunity to get to know the youth and help them practice their English.

Elysa – January 6

Next stop was at water development projects. Locals come to fill their 7-liter buckets. When we were there, an old woman was filling hers. She must have been 80 years old, and was saying how happy she is that the water is there. She thanked us over and over again. We went to a clinic where we helped give out these nutritional bars mainly to kids and pregnant mothers. They follow close to 6000 patients monthly to make sure they are gaining weight and are getting proper nutrition. We also played with the kids and had so much fun giving them some toys, and blowing bubbles, which I’m sure they have never seen before in their lives. It was truly enriching.

Maayan – January 8

When you see little children sitting in the street or walking without shoes or normal clothes this makes you think about life how people can live in such a way and moreover how the “rich” people there can just no pay attention and to get used to this?!!! When I came back to the hotel to sleep I think about those that I just so sleeping outside…this day I felt overwhelmed but also good cause I knew that we are going to do it a better place…

Yarden – January 8

Today we went to the village Ambover in jeeps. Ambover was the capital of the Jews near Gondar and had a famous Jewish community. We went to a clinic in Teda village that was opened in the 80′s and now is managed by the government. Amazing!!!

Cedric – January 8

Looking out the window, poverty struck you in the face. I observed the established houses and wondered how one could live like so.  Thinking about their lifestyle left me with an anguished face. All I could think to myself was “where the hell am I.” But from that, I began to understand real poverty.

Karine – January 10 (in French)

It has been nine days today since we left Montréal. Until now, no two days have been alike. In fact, as some of us mentioned at dinner, it is difficult to decide which day has been the best since each day has brought us a new surge of different emotions.

Talia – January 11

So far… I like Lalibela the most.  The driver informed us that it is considered Ethiopia’s Jerusalem.

David – January 16

Although I am physically home, my mind is still in Ethiopia. What an unbelievable trip it was. Now that we are home, we have certain challenges that lie ahead. It is up to us to follow up our experience with significant efforts to fundraise and to educate our communities on what we have witnessed and on the current situation in Ethiopia.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) addresses the most pressing issues in Jewish life by working to inspire Jews throughout the world to connect with their people, heritage and land, and empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and strong Israel. The Jewish Agency pursues this goal by bringing young Jews to Israel for life-changing experiences and involving them in social activism in Israel and abroad.

Israel and overseas allocations from Combined Jewish Appeal through the Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA address, with our partners abroad (such as JAFI and JDC), social issues including youth, education, social welfare, capacity building and people-to-people connections.

  • Lily Gozlan-Toledano says:

    Quelle expérience enrichissante et inoubliable!
    L’école de la vie “LIVE”.
    Bravo à toute l’équipe pour son dévouement, son énergie et surtout, son visage tourné vers “l’Autre”, démuni et bien moins nanti que nous au Canada.


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