Hannah Gaventa

In Ghana, we gave local women micro grants and training — and the women used both to change their lives. They found their voices at home. They had disposable incomes. They churned big bowls of shea butter for hours and hours. It was amazing to see how passionate they were about what they were doing.

Hi! I’m Hannah and I’m from London. I studied biomedical sciences in university, and after graduation, I decided to try something new and volunteered in Ghana with Tzedek. That experience introduced me to the field of international development and humanitarian aid and launched my career. Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, I helped with recovery efforts as a JDC Service Corps member with JDC GRID. Since then, I have helped with relief efforts with IsraAID in Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Dominica, where I served as the Country Director.

What helps you forge connections with cultures all over the world?

I grew up in a very diverse family. Some of my family members are Orthodox Jews, and others are Christian. At a young age, I became adept at moving between cultures and passionate about bringing together people to celebrate both our differences and our similarities. In my work in international development, I have enjoyed building relationships with people wherever I go, sharing my background, and learning from them.

How has your Jewish identity played a role in your work?

While I was in the Philippines with JDC, we traveled to a remote island. Though it was eight months after the typhoon, we were the first outsiders to visit. The community had lost everything in the typhoon, but they welcomed us with a lavish meal of pork and seafood. I keep kosher, but I didn’t want to offend them by not eating anything. So, I shared a bit about my Jewish background and then the community members shared some of their religious beliefs with me. It was beautiful to be able to bring my whole self to work and to connect with my hosts because of our diverse beliefs. Afterwards, the community members even prepared fried eggs for me. 

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