Volunteering in Israel

BUSTAN Green Internships

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BUSTAN is a partnership of Jewish and Arab eco-builders, architects, academics, and farmers promoting social and environmental justice and fair allocation of resources in Israel/Palestine

BUSTAN cultivates sustainable models to effect change by combining advocacy and in-depth political analysis with strategic action. BUSTAN utilizes the principles of permaculture and non-violent direct action across ethnic divides. A small, grassroots, non-hierarchical organization, many decisions are made by consensus, a process which often benefits from a wide range of perspectives.


BUSTAN Volunteers/Interns should, above all, have a deep concern for lands and their peoples, particularly from an eco-justice perspective. We are seeking partnerships with creative, and skilled individuals who define themselves as impassioned, committed, self-starters. Our Volunteers/Interns should be computer savvy, and eager to help with proactive, and tangible environment projects to catalyze social change in Israel/Palestine. If the volunteer is trained or training in these fields – eco-building, organic farming, planning, analytical writing, human rights advocacy – his/her experience can be a great help to us. For most field work, Arabic is of course very very helpful. Hebrew is often quite necessary. Language limitations will limit the extent of field work possible, and the volunteer should be flexible in this regard.

Above all, Bustan volunteers MUST be COMMITTED, PASSIONATE, KIND, COMPASSIONATE, and INDEPENDENT. Bustan volunteers get a lot of support for taking initiative - more support for taking initiative than they will get guidance. If you are the kind of person that requires a lot of instruction and structure, this is not the right position for you. If you are the kind of person who thrives on an atmosphere in which individual talents and capabilities are fully trusted and nurtured and allowed to flourish into full creativity, do apply to work with us. Bustan strongly encourages the application of qualified individuals from a disadvantaged socio-economic or cultural background for research and administrative work. Bustan travels frequently through the Negev in sometimes difficult conditions and is not equipped to accommodate people with special needs for fieldwork. Bustan is a supportive environment, but we do not hand-hold. We expect a balance of bravery and humility, and perhaps above all, creativity, from our Volunteers/Interns.

Volunteer Tasks

BUSTAN's work is varied and broad. We run tours in the Negev, monitor court and Knesset proceedings on land rights and environmental cases, organize eco-building work-camps, sponsor 'informal education' training in villages, engage in international advocacy, and more. Thus, options for Volunteers/Interns are diverse and flexible. At the same time, the work that needs to be done is very concrete. This includes making the contacts necessary to arrange tours, disseminating information about the Negev in their home country, collecting materials for work-camps and eco-justice projects, and soliciting donated equipment for health clinics, etc. In the past, BUSTAN volunteers have helped arrange a range of projects including holding a benefit concerts to raise money to build a clinic; and holding an art exhibition to raise money for the purchase of solar panels. One intern devoted herself to contacting companies to ask for donations of medical supplies and equipment, another organized an entire international speaking tour for BUSTAN. The Volunteer chooses from one of the options below, and spends additional hours on administrative tasks. Once a week, Volunteers will meet with the BUSTAN director.

OPTION ONE: Teach English

As a grassroots organization with a wide network of contacts and range of community supporters, BUSTAN works to convey different aspects of the environmental reality faced by Negev communities to as wide an audience as possible.

While many organizations working in the Negev have gathered the stories documenting the Bedouin reality, never before has anyone focused on the Naqab/Negev and the Bedouin from a primarily environmental justice perspective. BUSTAN seeks motivated Volunteers to teach English to Bedouin and Jewish leadership, to enable the discussion of environmental issues and the intersection of population density, settlement development, resource exploitation, and industrial pollution as well as cultural transformation. There is a great need to empower people to speak about these issues, to strengthen their ability to communicate with groups of eco-tourists, delegations, and media. Volunteers will be placed in homes and in exchange for food and accomodations, will be asked to teach English to families and groups of community activists.

OPTION TWO: Conduct Research and Field Interviews - Corporate Research and More

We interview a wide range Bedouin and Jewish workers, and employers. Volunteer must speak Arabic or Hebrew for Option 2.

OPTION THREE: Develop Environmental Curricula

Work with experts on indigenous plant knowledge, sustainable agriculture and herding practices, and alternative technologies.Volunteers will work with environmental educators with experience teaching environmental rights, tools, and science to youth. These materials will be the first in-depth attempt aimed at culling effective informal curricula and field activities which can be integrated into a comprehensive curricula aimed at the next generation of Bedouin and Jewish residents of the Negev.

OPTION FOUR: Negev Unplugged Project

The Intern/Volunteer can work with other members to research international contacts and convey the Negev reality abroad. The Volunteer can choose to focus on the creation and distribution of educational materials for publication on various venues. They can work on writing campaigns, publishing articles to raise awareness; designing or organizing educational activities and materials to promote environmental and social justice. They can also choose to design and/or facilitate BUSTAN campaigns by coordinating between campuses, churches, mosques, synagogues and peace centers in Europe, as well as to play a neutral role in arranging alliances between groups in Israel/Palestine. The link between human rights and sustainable development is very new in Israel/Palestine, thus requiring strong promotional materials and events.

The Intern/Volunteer can also help arrange our Negev Unplugged Tours. BUSTAN offers a wide variety of tours which expose Israelis and internationals of the Negev. BUSTAN's tours are unique in that they connect citizens from other regions, ambassadors, solidarity groups and tourists to all of those that make up the Negev landscape: i.e. Bedouin leaders, Israeli authorities, Jewish settlers, industrialists, and ecologists. We aim to give as many of these tours as possible this year. The Volunteer can assist us greatly in recruiting audiences from their home country and giving tours in their native tongue. They can also assist the Director and other BUSTAN members with maintaining logistical order as they give regular tours to large and small groups, in English and Hebrew.

OPTION FIVE: Fieldwork

This is 100% authentic, hands-on, heart-in fieldwork mostly in Bedouin villages and townships in Israel. Working with students from regional Negev schools, Ben Gurion University and around the country, the BUSTAN Intern will aim to cull information about Negev industries, dumps, military grounds, and government ministries and their health impacts on the lives of Negev-area workers, farmers and neighborhood residents. In essence, the Intern will present an alternative to the official 'Green Patrol,' fighting environmental racism via keeping an eye on polluting industries and addressing government neglect proactively.

  1. The BUSTAN Intern will work with BUSTAN to approach Ben Gurion University students from one or more unrecognized villages which suffer from inadequate trash-pickup. S/he will identify at least one clearly committed contact and work with them in developing strategies for cleaning up their neighborhoods through recycling and re-use programs, without waiting for government 'help.'
  2. The Intern will engage in investigative field-work aimed at developing long-term relationships of trust and reciprocity necessary for collecting data on the extent of cancer, asthma, miscarriages and other concerns, in villages near factories, dumps, and power plants.
  3. And all the while, the Intern will also engage factory owners and government officials. The Intern will collect their PR materials and create a running database cataloguing knowledge gained about the relationship between factories, governmental ministries, the military, and Negev communities.

Weekly Schedule

Working hours will be from 9:00 to 16:00 five days a week though this will be flexible to fit in with the activities of the Volunteer/Intern. In the afternoon and on the two-day weekend the Volunteer/Intern will be free to explore the city and the local area and participate in activities organized by the host organization. As well as receiving all national holidays of Israel and their home country, Volunteers/Interns will have a two-week vacation period to be agreed with the sending organization or university.

We are flexible. Ideally, Volunteers choose an above option for 30 hours a week, and engage 10 hours of their time in research and writing. If the Volunteer has the requisite organizing, horticulture, eco-tech and/or language skills, s/he also has the option of coordinating a small hands-on, physical project.

Administrative work involves keeping contact with a range of partners and supporters and responding to inquiries, as well as organizing the research gathered so far in to a system transferrable to future interns. Administrative work may involve reporting for our website and listserve updates, developing contacts in the field, and/or writing advocacy materials.


If the Volunteer/Intern cannot speak in Hebrew or Arabic s/he must be prepared to engage in more internet research, or must take the initiative to find and coordinate volunteer translators to assist in her/his work. This is not an easy task, but with persistence and a friendly demeanor, it is possible. Research work can involve a combination of field work and internet research. It may involve time in the field interviewing people, taking photographs, and surveying sites of relevance. The higher the volunteer's language skills, the more field research s/he will be able to do. Strong writing skills in one's native language is a great advantage, and contacts with environmental/eco-justice/indigenous rights groups abroad would be very appreciated. Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, and French speakers preferred.

The volunteer will have opportunities to learn Hebrew or Arabic in many contexts, and may enroll in an inexpensive local ulpan (Hebrew class). If the volunteer lives in a home-stay, language learning will be greatly facilitated. The Director and BUSTAN staff will also assist with language wherever possible.

Training and Support:

Each internship is uniquely designed with BUSTAN Director Devorah Brous, and aims to merge our organizational needs with the interests of the volunteer. There is a sizable variety of work available to volunteers, and thus it is highly possible for the volunteer to develop and grow during the process. The Director will oversee all final written work produced by the volunteer and will make plans in conjunction with the volunteer to develop a field schedule.

To apply, please send:

  1. A CV
  2. A long/short writing sample about the choice you have selected above
  3. A paragraph describing your reasons for applying, your objectives in volunteering with BUSTAN
  4. E-mails of 2 references
  5. Times of availability for a skype or chat interview to discuss the specifics of your time frame for Volunteering/Interning

For more information: http://www.bustan.org/

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