When Ingryd London began volunteering at the age of fourteen, she found that giving back to her community was extremely rewarding in multiple ways. Recently, the now twenty two-year-old seminary student from England was at a crossroads in her life, and decided that on her next break from university, she wanted to go on a service trip. A friend of Ingryd’s had just returned from Tzedek’s Go Global program, and Ingryd describes that she felt drawn to the organization. On a whim, Ingryd decided to apply to volunteer in Ghana.
Tzedek, a nonprofit organization based in England, focuses on expanding the Jewish community’s response to extreme poverty in developing countries. Tzedek’s Go Global program, a seven-week internship experience, focuses on global development in specific communities while also placing a strong emphasis on Jewish values.
“Tzedek was a perfect fit for what I wanted. I felt comfortable knowing someone who had already been on a Go Global trip, and I’ve always wanted to volunteer in sustainable development. I instantly trusted the organization, and felt a deep connection to its mission.”
Ingryd traveled to Ghana for her internship, and worked in an elementary school, where she says she cultivated lasting relationships with the students, as well as other teachers. Ingryd explains that even though her time in Ghana wasn’t very long, her students had a profound effect on her. She describes that her experience in Ghana was eye-opening, and explains that the mutual respect between the local community and Tzedek was amazing to see.
“One of the most challenging moments for me in Ghana was when one of my students found out she had malaria. She did not have access to basic necessities that could have prevented this, and in that moment, reality really hit me,” Ingryd explains, “My younger sister is the same age. It took me a long time to process how lucky I was to grow up in England, and how crucial it is to become involved in impoverished countries.”
There is a strong connection; a true family feel.
Ingryd explains that during her time in Ghana she tried to learn as much Dagbani, the local language, as she could. “Every time I learned a new word, I’d write it down and then practice with locals,” Ingryd describes, “They got really involved in helping me. It was really hard for me to say goodbye, but simultaneously, I felt oddly happy because for me, it was a reflection of a real relationship I built with them.”
Ingryd says that one of the most surprising elements of her volunteer experience was learning more about Tzedek. “I was pleasantly surprised to hear how much thought and care goes into every decision the Tzedek team makes,” Ingryd explains, “It was very inspiring to see Tzedek’s true investment in the partners and community in Ghana.”
“On a basic level, the way that Tzedek deals with their partners is amazing,” Ingryd explains, “They truly invest in the future of their partnerships, and are willing to devote the necessary time to ensure their success. There is a strong connection; a true family feel.“
“During my time in Ghana I was invited to go to church services, and family dinners. When you’re willing to invite someone into your life…it really surpasses just working together…to me it was the most valuable aspect of my time with Tzedek.”
Ingryd explains that after finishing university, she’d love the opportunity to return to Ghana. She describes her time volunteering there as personally transformative, and encourages others to pursue service learning experiences. “You’re consistently outside of your comfort zone, but you’ll be surprised about how much you learn about yourself. My experience changed my life on every level.”