A Short, Impactful Project TEN-Uganda Experience

A delegation of 10 women volunteered for a few days with The Jewish Agency’s Project TEN center in Uganda on a meaningful trip organized by the United Jewish Federation.

Cindy, a UJF delegation participant, volunteering with Project TEN at a school in Uganda | Image provided by Cindy

In July, 10 Jewish women, aged 50 and up, visited The Jewish Agency’s Project TEN center in Uganda on a short-term delegation organized by the United Jewish Federation (UJF) in Stamford, Connecticut. The trip had been in the works for a while, inspired by UJF CEO Diane Sloyer’s visit in May 2022 to Project TEN’s Kibbutz Harduf center in the north of Israel.

​​Project TEN is The Jewish Agency’s service-learning program that promotes social resilience in developing communities around the globe and in Israel. Volunteers are young Jewish adults from all over the world who work alongside locals while engaging in a global dialogue on Jewish identity and values with their peers.

“I had known about and admired the work of Project TEN for quite some time and was impressed with the program’s Harduf location. While typically offering longer-term volunteer opportunities to young adults, I wanted to explore the idea of giving adults the opportunity to actively volunteer with Project TEN for a short period,” explained Diane. “And we were specifically interested in Uganda because of the raid on Entebbe and the long-established Abayudaya Jewish community there.”

“I was on the May 2022 trip with Diane that visited Harduf and everything about Project TEN – the program, the empowerment, the notion of Tikkun Olam – really resonated with me,” shared Susan Kostin, a Stamford participant who was part of the UJF delegation. “It was eye-opening to go to Uganda and see firsthand the challenges and reality of life there. Now that we’re back home, we want to create awareness in the congregation and community of Project TEN’s amazing work.”

Upon arriving in Uganda, after a long day of orientation with the Project TEN Uganda staff, the women volunteered in two different schools for four days. They spent time reading, playing thinking games made of sustainable materials, dancing, singing and laughing with the children.

“Everything was great; from experiencing the volunteering to putting smiles on kids’ faces… learning about Project TEN’s work and getting to be a part of it myself was incredible. Every minute was a highlight and I felt like I was just trying to soak it all up. I’m really grateful to have gone on the trip and am eager to share my experience with others,” said Renee Manger, another participant from Stamford.

Renee first saw Project TEN in action at the program’s Mexico City center on a Jewish Agency mission in February 2023. During that trip, she also met Cindy Hoddeson, from Manhattan, New York. Thanks to her connection to Renee, Cindy, who was also interested in getting involved with Project TEN, was able to be a part of the UJF delegation despite not being in the Stamford community.

“It was a phenomenal, transformational experience with so many meaningful moments. I’m glad I was able to be a part of it,” stated Cindy.

Besides interacting with kids in the schools, the delegation celebrated Shabbat with the Abayudaya Jews and paid homage in a touching memorial ceremony to the heroic Entebbe raid. They also got to meet Robert Katende, known for his remarkable work empowering underprivileged youth through chess as seen in the inspiring movie “Queen of Katwe.”

“This mission and delegation really instilled the values of Tikkun Olam and brought the participants closer to the global impact of UJF and The Jewish Agency,” added Diane. “I hope the women were impacted by the experience in ways that will lead them to be more involved in volunteering and philanthropy.”