The Jewish Agency's Project TEN in Action

Victor Santos, a volunteer from The Jewish Agency's Project TEN. Photo: Nir Kafri for The Jewish Agency for Israel​

San Diego's Israel Connections Initiative fosters engagement and connections between San Diego and Israel. With your support, we are proud to partner with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). JAFI brings Jews to Israel, Israel to Jews and helps build a better society in Israel and beyond. JAFI's initiative, Youth Futures, helps at-risk children reach their full potential in Israel's periphery. 

How did Victor Santos, formerly an agricultural instructor in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, fall in love with the Jewish State? Naturally, through a matchmaker.

Santos was introduced to the humanitarian power of Israel by Project TEN, The Jewish Agency’s initiative that brings together young Jews from around the world to volunteer together on sustainability projects in developing countries and in Israel. Project TEN operates volunteer centers in Ghana, Mexico, Uganda, South Africa, and Israel’s Kibbutz Harduf.

Following his studies in agriculture, Santos, 23, was searching for employment in agricultural instruction, sustainability training, or recycling. He first learned of Project TEN upon hearing about a local school’s visit to the initiative’s volunteer center.

A year later, Santos recalls hearing from a friend about “an amazing project run by Israelis,” yet he did not initially “make the connection between the place the schoolchildren visited and the place my friend told me about.”

“I tried to investigate the project, and I decided to obtain some details about it,” he says. “I learned that it started out as a Jewish Agency project. And when I came and was accepted for work, each day I had a better experience than the previous one. I worked on the project for a year and a half and, together with the director, we consolidated the principles of the project at Oaxaca. These are principles relating to agricultural work and cooperative work.”

Santos and his colleagues not only found volunteers in Oaxaca, but also launched a recruitment campaign among residents of nearby villages.

“We instructed the participants about The Jewish Agency’s work and about its activities around the world, and when I saw how the volunteers worked, I was left speechless,” says Santos. “I witnessed a rare spectacle of people from all over the world who were only interested in being humane and human, and bringing wealth and unity to the world.”

Managing the Project TEN volunteers marked the first time that Santos had ever met Jews, let alone worked with them. He says he previously “didn’t know anything about Jews or Israel,” but “fell in love” with the Holy Land through the volunteers’ stories.

“What evoked my love and great appreciation was, among other things, seeing the volunteers from Israel and around the world, taking part in yoga classes, reading good books, and improving their conduct,” he says. “I said to myself, ‘Only people who take care of themselves, and work to advance themselves in all areas, can contribute to others.’ If only everyone in the world acted like that. First improve yourselves and then change the world, repair it.”


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