A Rewarding Opportunity

By UUA International Resources

UUSC partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) on a joint volunteer trip to Haiti, January 21-28. In the post below, trip participant Nuala Carpenter shares thoughts on the experience. The UUA-UUSC Haiti Volunteer Program is made possible through the contributions of UUA and UUSC donors and a generous grant from the Veatch Program of the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock, in Manhasset, N.Y. I am one of 14 people from the Main Line Unitarian Church, in Devon, Penn., who participated in the January 2012 UUSC-UUA Just Works service-learning trip to Haiti. Social justice and taking action close to home and around the world is central to our faith. UUSC provides us an opportunity to put our faith in action. Groups of members from our church have taken other trips together, but they have been led by non-UU organizations. Taking this trip led by UUSC makes the light of Unitarian Universalism shine brighter in the world and has been a very meaningful experience. In Haiti's Central Plateau, we worked with members of the Papaye Peasant Movement to help complete the eco-village for families who lost their homes in the earthquake and fled Port-au-Prince. When I first arrived at the village I was pleasantly surprised to see 10 neat sturdy houses, one for each family, with every home surrounded by a flower garden with a tire garden and a chicken coop behind. These houses contrasted favorably with many of the small shack-like homes we saw as we drove to the village. It has been extraordinarily rewarding to help build outdoor kitchens, a community center, and goat pens for the villagers— and to help change for the better the lives of 10 Haitian families who lost all their possessions and friends and family members in the earthquake. As well as working in the village, we had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Haitians both in the village and at the training center where we are staying. I am amazed at the resilience, determination, and creativity shown by the Haitians we have met as they work to rebuild their lives and their country. The UUSC model of eye-to-eye partnership, which involves asking the Haitians what they need and want, treats them with dignity and respect. It was easy to see how this empowered the Haitians we met. They are all looking forward with hope to a brighter future. Working with UUSC in Haiti is a rewarding opportunity to help — and stand in solidarity with — the people in the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere, a country that is so close to the continental United States. If you want a life-changing experience, go to Haiti with UUSC.

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