Ilanit Cohen is a law student who joined Brit Olam in 2011 as a volunteer with the Muse Uganda program. In 2012, she led Brit Olam’s Youth delegation to Uganda, Ilanit took an active role in preparing the group before they took off and guided it on the ground.

“I don’t believe there are many opportunities like this in the world. I’m so blessed to have been part of such a unique mission that brings teens from such different cultures together to create not only friendships, but also a sustainable project that indeed sheds light on the world. Since this was a pilot mission at first, the Israelis were anxious to leave home and be faced with harsher living standards while the Ugandans bashful and unexpressive. After a short time, however, the students were hugging, laughing, dancing and singing together and sharing cultural traditions. While working on the project, both Israeli and Ugandan students were supportive and understanding of each other, using art and creativity as a mutual language for expression and inspiration.

During the short two weeks, the students learned about volunteerism and sustainability. More importantly, they learned that if they believe in themselves, they have the power to make a difference for the better. Students began working on the project by addressing different difficulties the village faced and how the students could make a change in a sustainable way. Since there were many single mothers in the village who were illiterate and had no source of income to provide for their families, the students chose to tutor these women in English and sewing to give them an education and vocation. While working together, everyone had a role, an opinion or idea shared, and students were able to get the project started right away.

Our project was simply unforgettable. Not only did we build something that can help others in need, we did it in a way that does not require outside resources or professionals; rather, it’s something created and run solely by students. For Israeli participants, this was their first time dreaming of actively creating a difference for the better and then turning that into reality! Together, the students took on roles of leadership, breaking down barriers and building the change in the world they want to see.”