An initiative of the Chief Rabbi which last year took 16 Jewish students to the slums of Mumbai will this year send participants to a Muslim-majority area of Ghana, to experience Jewish social responsibility in Africa.

The Ben Azzai Programme, supported by the Pears Foundation, was heralded as “an unqualified success” last year, after students spent eight days learning about international development and innovative programmes to tackle extreme poverty.

Participants on the Mumbai visit were struck by the vast disparity in wealth between the city’s rich and poor, with plush skyscrapers casting slums in shade, and have since returned as ‘ambassadors,’ visiting schools, shuls and campuses to explain what they learned.

Organised within an Orthodox framework, the trip taught the students that social responsibility is a fundamental Jewish obligation, and introduced them to Jewish volunteers from the Gabriel Project Mumbai, an initiative caring for vulnerable children living in the slums, by providing food, literacy support and healthcare.

This year, participants will be taken to the city of Tamale in the north of Ghana. The city’s fast-growing population is mainly Muslim and blighted by extreme poverty, with most people working seven days a week and still not earning enough to afford a decent living standard.

“The visit will provide participants with a much more nuanced understanding of extreme poverty, its causes and its context,” said a spokesman for the Chief Rabbi.

Applications are now being accepted for this year’s visit, which is being delivered in partnership Tzedek and which is slated for 17-24 December. The deadline for applications is 18 September.