I donated money for their Horn of Africa hunger relief program. This triggered an endless barrage of mail solicitations, phone calls and emails from them. I have reason to believe that they also shared my contact information with other charities. I've made multiple requests to remove my contact information from their lists to no avail.
Review from CharityNavigator
American Jewish world service is the worst organization I've ever gone on a trip with. I attended their week long program in Nicaragua in January 2012 with a group of all college students. I did not really know how the organization worked before hand, but I came in with the idea that we would be helping a small community build a grain silo to help with their agriculture. What actually happened is we were kept in a heavily fortified compound with a armed guard. The only time we were allowed to leave is when we were taken to the community to dig trenches for 5 hours a day. Oh yeah last minute they decided we were better suited to dig trenches in hard-as-rock ground. I actually had no problem with doing this seeing that we were bringing running water to this village for the first time. The thing that really pissed me off is after these long mornings of hard work we went back to the compound and had to sit through lectures and activities for another 4 hours. They tried to force into our heads over and over again why we needed to volunteer more and become a citizen of the world. Honestly they were preaching to the wrong crowd. Clearly we were already on a service trip! The big problems arose when they found the alcohol I had bought. Now the drinking age in Nicaragua is 16 and having known this beforehand I planned to buy alcohol right when I got there, which me and my friend both did. Realizing we didn't have a lot of opportunity to drink we snuck a few here and there. Upon finding us pouring the liquor, our group leader made us all have a long discussion and told us that he would have to talk to their offices in NY. This is all occurring on Wednesday by the way. I hadn't read the rules or the contract before going so I didn't really know the repercussions of getting in trouble. The next day the group leader said we were going home for breaking the rules and the before you know it were in a taxi heading to the airport. So there we were on a flight home with only 2 days left in the whole trip. I get home and look over the rules only to find out our group leader had lied to our faces over and over again. They had no right to kick us out of the country and force us into signing documents. I could have easily stayed on my own till my flight Saturday as I have traveled a lot by myself and am not a minor. The organization treated us all like children, which we are not, and made a fool of itself. Being with them is almost like being in a Nazi work camp. NO ONE SHOULD DO A TRIP WITH THEM!!!!!
Review from CharityNavigator
The trip my husband and I took into the field with AJWS was a turning point in our philanthropic and passionate commitment to this great organization and to the people served through its programs. Several years ago, we accompanied the indefatigable Ruth Messinger and other staff and volunteer leaders to Thailand and Cambodia to meet the leadership and beneficiaries of programs that AJWS funds, We were moved by the level of professionalism and passion of the workers we met. And we were impressed by the strategic funding choices AJWS makes in the field, as well as the organization's commitment to measuring the impact of its investments. AJWS's funding is often to small cutting-edge groups who may not receive the largesse of traditional funders. This means AJWS is often one of the first funders to a new cause or organization -- and because this early money is the hardest to raise and has the greatest impact, it makes AJWS a leading player in the communities it serves. Our commitment to AJWS has deepened over the years, as we have come to know its leadership, its programs, and the depth of its commitment to healing the world.
Review from CharityNavigator
Incredibly knowledge of the complexity of on-the-ground issues. AJWS knows how to make aid go the farthest, while building grassroots power so that the people receiving the aid can be in control of how it affects their communities. One of the best you can donate to.
I have donated to them for many years and have had the amazing opportunity to travel with them to Africa and India to see their work first hand. They do amazing work in many countries around the world.
I spent summer 2008 in Honduras working with an NGO in the community of Gracias. We worked for seven weeks building a community center. I was impressed with the AJWS's organization of the trip and the curriculum that went along with the program. We were able to learn about the poverty and problems that are causing it as well as how to reduce its impact.
I spent my summer in 2008 on a Volunteer Summer program in El Horno, Nicaragua. Working along side with Fundacion Denis Ernesto GonzÃ¡lez LÃ³pez, we assisted in building a community center in order for the NGO to provided sustainable agricultural techniques to farmers as well as to bring in income to provide more micro- grants to local farmers. AJWS provided me with an amazing experience as well as knowledge of social justice issues. AJWS is an amazing organizations and since working with them it has been hard to find other groups that is as dedicated to alleviating poverty. My experience with AJWS has been the major turning point in becoming a global citizen and living responsibly. AJWS provides participants with the essential tools to assess and address social justice issues.
AJWS is a first class organization! I spent a summer volunteering with them in Uganda and another summer in Cambodia. The orientation material was outstanding as was the application process. I felt well looked after even though I was half way around the world from the NY office. Both placements had in-country reps and I was connected with other volunteers who I would meet up with in the capitals once or twice. The two NGOs were great matches for my administrative and teaching skills. Thank you AJWS!
I spent 6 months working as an AJWS World Partners Fellow in Nicaragua. I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with a unique NGO that empowered women through microloans, training, health education, and health services. AJWS did a great job of matching my interests and skills with the needs of their partnering grassroots organizations. This experience strengthened my commitment to social justice, tikkun olam, and global health.
I volunteered with AJWS in Honduras during the summer of 2007 and interned with the grants department in 2008. Having seen the organization on the ground and behind the scenes, I can confidently say that AJWS does extraordinary work and goes above and beyond the call of duty in order to pursue tikkun olam across the planet.
I was in the volunteer corps program for 2 months in India. AJWS did a superb job providing orientation, training, and support before, during, and after my placement in India. They found a good match for my skills and abilities and AJWS has positive relationships with NGOs who are doing transformative work in India. They spend a lot of time and energy making these placements productive for the volunteers and the NGOs.
As a donor I feel that AJWS does all possible to reach out to those in the world who are in the greatest need. I had the personal experience of working with AJWS in a Walk for Darfur fund raising effort earlier this year and felt well supported and much appreciated by the organization. Their staff was available before. during and after the event and definitely made the event the success that it was.
I traveled to the Yucatan on a Rabbinical School last winter with AJWS where I saw the power of a Non-Government Organization (NGO) transforming a community. Though this community only received a small grant from AJWS, they had made significant accomplishments. AJWS helped them diversify their sources of income while strengthening existing sources. In this process AJWS also helped the community implement environmental sustainability practices. Living and working with the people of this community gave me a true feeling for what they were experiencing. We also learned a astonishing amount of information about global issues, such as how foreign aid can be detrimental to those it intends to help. This trip was not just a one time event. AJWS engages you before, during, and after, strengthening your personal commitment to address global economic inequity. Sharing this experience with others has helped me create a group of friends and colleagues who are equally committed to this work.
All of the people with whom I have worked are professional, dedicated, smart and knowledgeable about their fields. I think the concept of people all over the world who are unlikely to have contact with Jews meeting Jews in a positive context is a beautiful and important idea. And, finally, AJWS works to empower people, not treat them as needy victims.
AJWS runs incredible programs, promoting human rights and social justice all over the world. In doing so they benefit the entire Jewish people by sharing with the rest of the world the importance of tikkun olam-- repairing the world-- to the Jewish people. I have donated money to their campaigns every year and have also participated in their Alternative Break Program to Nicaragua. They infuse the Jewish roots of helping others into hands-on service, creating Jewish leaders and individuals committed to helping make the world a better place.
I participated in the AJWS VS Program. It was an amazing experience. They took a lot of time to help us understand global poverty, its implications and how we can best try to fix it, and really educated our group. We also were involved in Honduran culture and took time to visit the campesinos and understand their lives and the challenges they face.
I traveled as a college student on volunteer summer AJWS to Nicaragua. It was not just the summer component but incredible opportunities afterwords such as domestic year long program that was worth every moment. I recommend AJWS to EVERYONE. this was a positive life changing experience and a lifetime community of support and opportunity. everything is perfect about the program.
My husband and I frequently donate to AJWS because of how they touch the lives of the world's poor. My son has chosen this organization his Bar Mitzvah charity.
The work that AJWS does globally and nationally is phenomenal. Their philosophy of working with local grassroots organizations that are already in existence allows them to be in touch with what local communities actually need--a model other organizations should adopt. In addition, their contributions to the education and experiences of American Jews is incredible and important.
I discovered AJWS when my husband and I wanted to make a donation to help the tsunami victims through a Jewish agency. Since then we have traveled twice with the organization to Africa and seen first hand the amazing work they do. This positive Jewish presence in countries throughout the world makes the concept of Tikkun Olam a reality. Their work in Darfur to combat genocide, their work with HIV AIDS, their work to combat world hunger, create community, support women, etc is utterly impressive.