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UU Holdeen India Program News
UU Holdeen India Program News
The mission of the UU Holdeen India Program (UUHIP) is to:
to work with organizations of India's most excluded and oppressed peoples: women; dalits, so-called "untouchables" who fall outside the caste system; and the adivasis or tribals who are India's indigenous peoples, especially migrant, bonded and landless agricultural laborers. UUHIP supports their efforts to participate fully in the social, economic and political life of India.
But, it doesn't end there... UUHIP Executive Director Kathy Sreedhar's efforts to assist in locating 5 Indian citizens in the wake of Hurricane Ike were described in Loksatta, India's daily newspaper. The author of the article is Jayant Dhulap and a translation of the article (originally in Marathi, with permission) follows:
A father of one of the students lost in cyclone affected area of USA comes to the office of journalist in Alibaug. A central minister in Delhi is contacted for getting information but the result was zero. At last a Director of human right organization in USA is contacted via Vidhayak Sansad's office at Usgaon in Thane. The lady keeps aside all her important works and she actively works with US police and disaster management cell to search the youths. Six volunteers of her organization and police find out the youths by helicopter and personally meet them and within 4 hours the first phone call is received confining all five youths are safe and secure. In next one and half-hour students themselves talk to their parents through special telecommunication system of disaster management cell. Though all this seems very fancy and imaginary the sense of humanity and human values behind all this happening has been felt by us. On Tuesday afternoon, one of my friends Laxman Mahajik was waiting for me in my office. When I reached office and saw him I could felt there was something wrong. He immediately informed me that his son Rohan & his four classmates are in Galvastone city of Texas in USA. "They are undergoing training on catering management since 1st june. But the whole Galvastone city is submerged due to recent cyclone. I am trying to contact Rohan but he cannot be contacted." Parents of all five students had no clue about their children and they were worrying aboutr their children's safety. Two students were girls. Then I started to find information of these students. First I tried to contact 'San Lui Resort' where students were staying but I could not contact them because all the infrastructure and telecommunication was disturbed due to cyclone. Then I tried to contact one of the Central ministers in Delhi. But he was in Mumbai. So I contacted at his home in Mumbai but he was not available. All my hopes were dying. And suddenly I realized that Mrs. Kathy Sreedhar, human rights activist is in USA. Kathy has great respect and love for Indians. She is a senior official of Unitarian Universalist Association in USA and she is also active in US Democratic Party. She is associated with Vidhayak Sansad and Shramjeevi Sanghatana in Thane district founded by Vivek and Vidyullata Pandit. I got her email ID and phone number from Vidhayak Sansad's office at Usgaon. I sent her an email giving names & information of students. Mr. Vivek Pandittalked to her directly on phone and immediately Kathy kept aside all her work and under her guidance, five volunteers of her organization started search operation with the help of American police & disaster management cell. Kathy was informed about students at 5.30 in the evening and she called us black at 9.30 informing us, " all five students are safe and secure. Her volunteers have found out them and met them on the spot. They have been shifted to safe place. please ask their parents not to worry. We are here to take care of them." After few hours Rohan himself called his Parents and confirmed that they are safe and secure and they also are helping those who are affected by cyclone. Because of Kathy, parents in Raigad in India could find out their children who were lost in cyclone in America and talked to them within four hours. So for parents and relatives of these students, Kathy Shreedhar has become an ambassador of humanity and love.
In the interest of full disclosure, Kathy reports that the article isn't entirely factual. She describes her involvement as "caring, persevering", and working the telephones to help these young people reconnect with their families. But. whatever the details, Kathy's constant commitment to the assisting people in "harms way" shines through the experience. Click here to find out more about UUHIP program partners One of UUHIP's closest partnerships has been with SEWA (Self-Employed Women's Association). On September 25, 2008 the founder of SEWA - Ela Bhatt - is speaking to the United Nations General Assembly about what women and the poor can do to overcome poverty. The full text of Ela Bhatt's speech is available as a Google document. Additional resources for learning about UUHIP and its program partners include discussion guides for two books: And, see an article from the UUWorld about a UUA delegation to UUHIP partners in 2001. A DVD about UUHIP and its partners will be available in early 2009. Please contact the UUA's Office of International Resources for Additional Information.

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