Teens get valuable lessons from Ghana project
BRITISH TEENAGERS have spent the summer utilising their youth movement leadership skills to help young Ghanaians run a summer camp for primary school children in the north of the country.
With the support of international development charity Tzedek, youth leaders from FZY and Tribe spent three weeks working with their Ghanaian peers.
Among the British participants was Bushey United Synagogue member Jemima Moore, 17, who helped to run educational activities for children in year four.
“I wanted to use my summer wisely, using my skills to benefit others and learning new skills at the same time.”
After working with the Ghanaians, she now appreciates that “having less isn’t necessarily a barrier to happiness.
“The way people in the community care for each other is amazing. They are so friendly to all religions.”
Mounish Schimmel, 17, a member of Central Square Minyan in Hampstead Garden Suburb, was another of the ten Britons involved in setting up the camp for more than 360 primary school children.
“I saw this opportunity as a great chance to help people less fortunate than I am — and at the same time learn new skills.”
He said his lesson from the project was “not to take things for granted. We are generally quite privileged. Children here [in Ghana] have much less access to education, resources and options for jobs, yet they are still so happy.”
As part of the initiative, the Ghanaian youth leaders, who are mostly Muslim, received training, as well the chance to take part in an entrepreneurial boot camp designed to get them on the business ladder, thus helping them to escape poverty.
Yahaya Abdul-Fataw, 19, said it was the first time he had encountered Jewish people.
“I learnt some Jewish songs and can now sing in Hebrew,” he said. “It was really good to meet people from a new religion.”
He added that the project not only helped him to improve his English. “I have gained respect in our society. People have seen that I am involved in helping their children and now when I walk down the street children call out ‘there is Fataw’. That makes their parents happy and it makes me smile.”
The venture has helped Mahami Mohamed, 23, to develop the leadership skills he will need to accomplish his dream of becoming a community leader. “I used to be unable to speak in public due to being very nervous. Now I am very confident because I have had lots of practice.” He has also “learnt a lot about the Jewish people. We are very similar in aspects like our rules of halal and kashrut.”
Tzedek chief executive Judith Stanton said education was a route out of extreme poverty.
The project — in partnership with a local NGO — had enabled the primary pupils “to further develop their English comprehension, numeracy and literacy skills through an extracurricular, informal structure, as well as to learn about a range of social and environmental issues.
“Alongside the volunteering work, our participants learned about international development, the Jewish responses to poverty and social justice and how poverty affects the lives of communities in Ghana.”
We are very similar in aspects like halal and kosher’
The British volunteers with Ghana leaders