Dear Blog Visitor,
Our names are Mindy Feldman and Beruria Steinmetz-Silber. As graduating seniors, we are all interested in seeking an experience in which we could do service work that would directly impact a Jewish community in a meaningful way. We feel that the time is ripe for us to go out into the world and put into practice the many values that we have learned and discussed so fervently in the classroom over the past four years. We have chosen to travel to Putti Village, Uganda, a small Jewish community of about 130 members with a vibrant history. The Putti village is especially in need of support; with little economic stability and resources, this is a community where our work will be felt in a meaningful way.
Over the past year, Beruria has been involved with Putti Village Assistance Organization (PVAO) at the University of Chicago, and she has organized a pen pal program between American students and Putti residents. Through the program, we have all been in contact with members of the community. We feel that working directly with the Putti community will both provide us with an enriching and unique experience, while giving each of us the opportunity to utilize our interests and skills to help a community that shares our deep commitment to Judaism.
The members of this tight-knit community are committed to an observant Jewish life, and are enthusiastic about furthering their Jewish education. Putti is home to a synagogue, library, nearby secondary school and health clinic. We have been in close contact with Rabbi Enosh Keki Mainah, the rabbi of the Putti community, who has asked that we dedicate most of our time in Putti to sharing our knowledge of Judaism with community members, as well helping them to improve their Hebrew and English. Our public health interests will be applied to teaching health awareness and education in the secondary school. In addition, as participating as members of the community, we plan to contribute to the community’s major production projects by helping out on the poultry farm and in the coffee fields.
Spending our summer with the Putti will vastly expand our understanding of Judaism and will deepen our connection to Jews around the world. We are confident that it will shape our understanding of the issues surrounding poverty and global health. We hope to bring back stories and lessons learned from this summer to our own communities, as well as to the greater New York Jewish community. Although we feel so privileged to have been blessed with this opportunity, the costs for the trip are high. In addition to covering our flights and expenses, it is important that we bring educational resources to the community. Any donations above our basic costs will go towards buying books and supplies for the Putti village members. We would greatly appreciate any size donation you are able to make. If you are interested in learning more about the Putti community or would like to get involved in more ways, please visit http://thejewsofuganda.org.
We thank you for your time and consideration. We appreciate any support you can give us in furthering our goal of service work.
We look forward to partnering with you.
A little about ourselves:
Mindy Feldman (BA History, Columbia College ’09), from Teaneck, NJ, plans to pursue a career in public health, with a specialization in Global Health. Mindy spent a summer volunteering in a rural village in Thailand with American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she worked with Burmese refugees on agriculture, health and education projects. She will be spending next year with AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps in New York, where she will be working for the Medicare Rights Center.
During her time at the University of Chicago, Beruria Steinmetz-Silber (AB Philosophy, University of Chicago ’09), originally from New York City, has volunteered with Project Health, connecting low-income patients with resources for employment, food, housing, and utility assistance, and has been involved with the Putti Village Assistance Organization since its inception.