In preparation for Justice GA in Phoenix, Ariz., (June 20-24, 2012) the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) have jointly organized three Service Learning trips to the U.S.-Mexico border with our partner organization, BorderLinks. In this blogpost Rev. Eric Cherry, the Director of the UUA's International Office, describes what is planned for the second trip which will begin on April 20th. The BorderLinks service learning trips are made possible through the generous contributions of UUA and UUSC donors. It was a privilege to journey with Unitarian Universalists who are engaged in a diverse array of ministries during the BorderLinks delegation last January. Together we grew in our understanding of the complex justice issues related to the US/Mexico border. We also found room for theological reflection about those matters. And, through the eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart connections with people living in this context, we returned deeply committed to the ongoing religious work for immigration justice. The participants in the upcoming delegation are also faith leaders engaged in diverse ministries: lay and ordained, in both parish and community settings. And, they are sure to have a deep and rich experience that will include visits with:
- Scholarships A-Z: A network of students and advisors working to make education accessible for all students. They help connect students to available resources and train them to be their own advocates.
- The Restoration Project: An intentional ecumenical community that blends faith and action through social justice work. They sponsor the Greyhound Bus Project, giving hospitality to recently released immigration detainees and providing them with information and resources.
- Samaritan Patrol (a.k.a. Samaritans): People of faith and conscience who patrol the desert at the U.S.-Mexico border on a daily basis during the hot months. At least one member of each patrol is a fluent Spanish speaker, and one is, ideally, a medical professional. Patrols carry water, food, emergency medical supplies, communication equipment, maps, and packs for travelers containing items necessary to survive in the desert.
- Hogar de Esperanza y Paz (HEPAC): HEPAC is a sister organization to BorderLinks and a community center in Nogales, Sonora. Programs offered at HEPAC include adult education and training classes, and the Child Food Security Program, which provides lunch to children and education for their families on nutrition and gardening. HEPAC also is home to a women’s cooperative that produces jewelry that raises awareness about deaths in the desert.
- Observing Operation Streamline and analyzing its injustices with legal professionals who confront it constantly.