Co-founder of Civic Duty Michael Omidi discusses the work of local hero Janice Kamenir-Reznik, a Southern California attorney who cofounded the Jewish World Watch, a nonprofit that works to relieve the suffering of genocide victims in the conflict areas of the Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Civic Duty would like to salute the fantastic efforts of Janice Kamenir-Reznik, founder and president of the Jewish World Watch (JWW), an Encino, California-based organization that fights against the atrocities of genocide. In addition to travelling around the world to hear the testimonies of victims of systematic abuse and atrocity, Janice Kamenir-Reznik works to raise awareness of genocide locally through local events and numerous speaking engagements. Ms. Kamenir-Reznik is also currently serving as commissioner of the Los Angeles County Citizens’ Economy and Efficiency Commission.
JWW has concentrated its efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and refugee camps in Darfur. The organization provides support to the survivors of the Darfur genocide, including educational and medical assistance, projects for sustainable economic development, agricultural training and programs to aid rape victims. Because many young women and girls are violently raped while collecting wood for cooking fires in the Darfuri camps, JWW began the Solar Cooker Project, and has distributed solar cookers in order to help feed families and protect the female refugees.
The Safe Motherhood Program, a project introduced in partnership with HEAL Africa, is an initiative that seeks to train rape victims to be self-sufficient through growing and cultivating crops and selling them at the market place. Additionally, the Safe Motherhood Program provides instruction in family planning, and encourages young girls to pursue an education.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been described as the “rape capitol of the world.” The culture of sexual assault is pervasive and even seen as normal throughout the region. JWW established the Chambucha Rape and Crisis Center for victims of sexual assault and the more than 22,000 women in the Chambucha region who need healthcare.
JWW has spearheaded local Southern California programs to raise political awareness among the young and encourage youth activism. Activism, Certification and Training (ACT) gives students the chance to become certified youth activists by offering kids the resources needed to lobby for change effectively. More than 500 middle school and high school students have been certified as JWW youth activists. Included among the student activism projects are:
Challah for Hunger – A UCLA student project that bakes and sells loaves of challah, raising funds for the Solar Cooker Project.
Shout it Out Loud – A rally organized by Huntington Beach High School Students promoting Operation Save Darfur
“I have met the 21st century’s survivors of ethnic cleansing and massive rape; neither their story nor their suffering is different from our own,” says Janice Kamenir-Reznik, cofounder of JWW. “I can think of no more dramatic or spiritual cause than to give voice to the voiceless and to bring meaning to the ancient mandate of ‘not standing idly by’ while others suffer.”
To learn more about the Jewish World Watch and its current projects, please visit jewishworldwatch.org.