My Bar Mitzvah project is to build a bottle school in Guatemala. My Bar Mitzvah will take place on March 16th, 2017 in Israel. When a boy becomes a Bar Mitzvah, tradition signifies that he must observe the commandments and complete the 613 mitzvot in the Jewish religion. In ancient culture, the age of 13 marked the age at which a boy could marry and the age where he could testify in court. To me, to become a Bar Mitzvah means to take on new responsibilities. While these responsibilities most importantly include religious commitments, they also include responsibilities to family, friends, the environment, and other human beings who perhaps are not as financially fortunate as me.
In school, I have learned a lot about human rights and the many legal documents which uphold them. I have gone to Guatemala twice, both times on charity missions. Guatemala is a country in which the government is unusually corrupt, and the basic rights of indigenous citizens are routinely abused. One of these such rights is the right to an education. Access to schooling is severely compromised in Guatemala. Only four out of ten children who start primary school actually finish. The indigenous literacy rate is 40%. Just as staggering is that 79% of the population lives under the poverty line. The infant mortality rate is 27.8%.
Ironically, obtaining an education is extremely important in Guatemala. It is the difference between living in extreme poverty and finding a job to propel oneself out of poverty. By educating children, we can help them prepare for the future and lift themselves up out of poverty. In raising money to build a school, I believe that my project fulfills the mitzvot of giving to charity (Deuteronomy 15:11).
I am doing this particular project because I believe that education is one of the most important and valuable things that a person can have in life. It is a vital factor which strengthens a person and gives him or her tools to navigate the world with knowledge. It often predicts success in that it empowers people to evaluate things independently and to look at the world with intelligence. Education is a large part of the Jewish culture and has always been important to my family and how I have been raised.
In preparing for my bar mitzvah, I have become more aware of how fortuante and priveliged I am to have the opportunities in education that I have had. I would like to do something that gives other children access to better schooling. Academic instruction should not be a luxury; it should be a right.
The organization that I will be working with is called Hug it Forward. This group believes that building bottle schools empowers communities because everybody is involved in the project, thus creating a sense of unity. So far, seventy-seven schools have been built over the course of eighty-three months. The schools that have been built are typically two classroom buildings. They have courses and extracurriculars such as the environmental education program which helps children grow food for their families.
A large part of Hug it Forward is how the people in communities are brought together by the building of the schools. The work gives residents a sense of ownership, and it makes them feel as though they have completed something as one cohesive unit. The fact the the whole town has contributed to the project and invested in it is extremely important in terms of not only the final product, but how that product is viewed. Building a school is more than about just constructing a building. It is about strengthening communities. To reach the goal of building a school, people need to work together, and there has to be a certain amount of cohesion among the residents. The creation of a school represents the work of not just one person, but the collective labor and toils of an entire community.
I believe that by doing this project, Guatemalan children will have their lives enriched and the education that they will receive will offer them a real path out of poverty. Having a school nearby and readily available is extremely valuable for both the children and their families. It can make a true, and important, difference in their lives.
Thank you and have a wonderful day.
1. Write a check in the amount you’d like to donate and make the check payable to “Hug It Forward”. Please make sure you state in the memo line of the check that your donation is to support the “Daniel’s Mitzvah Project”.
2. Mail the check to Hug It Forward at:
Hug It Forward
4600 Hampshire Dr.
Flower Mound, TX 75028
1. You can make your donation through PayPal by clicking the button below. If you choose this option, please make sure to provide a note in PayPal that your donation is for the “Daniel’s Mitzvah Project”.
Important Note: Hug It Forward is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization in the USA and your donation is tax deductible. Once the checks have been received by Hug It Forward, they will email a tax deductible receipt to you. Thank you!