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Activity 1: Story — On the Trail with No More Deaths (15 minutes), Workshop 4: The Call for Empathy

In "Heeding the Call," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story until you are comfortable presenting it.
  • Optional: Make copies of the story for youth to share and read along.

Description of Activity

Youth hear a story about empathetic volunteers trying to help immigrants cross the border into the United States from Mexico.

Start a discussion about current issues in immigration to find out how much participants already know. You might ask, "Why are some Americans upset about immigrants from Mexico who are living in the United States without official permission?" Mention some of the current plans to handle immigration across the Mexican border, including building a fence, strengthening border patrol, deporting immigrants, versus creating new paths to citizenship. Tell youth that you will share a story about some people taking action around this issue.

Introduce the story by telling the group that it is adapted from the website of an organization called No More Deaths. Volunteers with No More Deaths distribute jugs of water to people primarily from Mexico and Central America trying to cross the border into the desert of the southwestern United States. Thousands of people have died while making this attempt. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, Arizona is one of many groups working to end the deaths by advocating for a more humane immigration system while also trying to meet the basic needs of border crossers. The dignity of all of us as a human family is at stake when conditions are so desperate that people are willing to risk their lives walking through a desert to find a better life. This story is one day in the lives of volunteers with No More Deaths.

Place a gallon of water in the center of the circle and invite youth to reflect on how different their lives would be if they all had to share that single jug of water for everything from brushing their teeth to bathing to drinking. Then tell or read "On the Trail with No More Deaths."

  • What spheres of influence are the volunteers affecting with their actions?
  • The volunteers are helping people in need, yet the people they are helping are breaking the law. What do you think about the actions of the volunteers?
  • On this trip, the volunteers are unable to provide water because the authorities removed the jugs. Do you think their actions are meaningless? Have you ever been unsuccessful in righting a wrong? What did that feel like? Did you try again?
  • The first UU Principle asks that we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Do you believe the inherent worth and dignity of every person includes affirming and promoting access to water, food, and healthy communities to everyone—even if it is against the law?
  • Currently, many states are "cracking down" on undocumented immigrants. The result has been that some people who have lived for years in the United States are being deported because they did not go through legal channels successfully. Deportation is breaking up many families where a parent or both parents are sent back across the border, leaving children here. Children born in the United States, even to undocumented immigrants, are United States citizens. How do you think these parents feel? How do the children feel? It is legal for our government to deport people, but is it humane or empathetic?
  • Some people who are deported were brought to the United States as young children. They are sent to live in countries where they have no connections, no homes or jobs, and no memories of living there. How would this make you feel?

Including All Participants

Have enough copies of the story to share so that if a youth is a visual learner, they can follow along.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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