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
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 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.
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.