UUA Holdeen India Program
UUA Holdeen India Program
This past weekend the Advisory Board of the UUA Holdeen India Program (UUHIP) met in Washington, DC. UUHIP is a very unique department of the UUA. It was established in 1984 with a mission 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 own struggle to secure economic and social justice."
For 24 years Kathy Sreedhar has been the director of UUHIP and has brought Unitarian Universalist values into action with more than 100 Indian social justice movements including: The UUHIP meetings began with dinner on Friday night and a discussion with Ms. Manjula Pradeep, executive director of UUHIP's long-time partner organization Navsarjan. Navsarjan is a Gujarati human rights organization focussed particularly on the rights of dalits. Ms. Pradeep described the early attempts of the organization to respond to a 1989 Law that attempted to prevent atrocities against dalits and other "scheduled castes". The organization's founder - and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award recipient Martin Macwan - began by offering legal aid and literacy skills to the dalit community. Today Navsarjan continues to fight for social change by demanding constitutional rights through mobilizations, educational campaigns, and legal intervention. Recent mobilizations have focused upon the illegal - but still widespread - practice of manual scavenging and "custodial deaths," ie. deaths that occur when a person is in the custody of police. Advisory Board members heard chilling situations that Navsarjan responded to with great effectiveness. On Saturday members of the Advisory board met with UUA Treasurer, Tim Brennan, to discuss budget prospects. In FY2009 UUHIP will is poised to provide nearly $600,000 in grants to its partners. And, in 2009, a new relationship with HIVOS (a Dutch NGO guided by Humanist principles) will provide an additional $300,000 to UUHIP partners. Advisory board members are keen to investigate further funding sources. They also hope to invite Unitarian Universalists to learn more about the human rights based/social change movement philosophy of UUHIP and its Partners in India. Members of the UUHIP Advisory Board are Ms. Nancy A Donaldson, Reverend Burton Carley, Ms. Maitreya Das, Ms. Jael Silliman, Mr. John Sommer, Ms. Kathy Sreedhar and Reverend Michael McGee. You can learn more about UUHIP by attending a workshop led by Kathy Sreedhar and Reverend Janne Eller-Isaacs at the UUA General Assembly on Friday, 6/27/2008 from 11:00AM - 12:15PM in the Convention Center room 209-210. Two books that describe the philosophy and work of UUHIP partners are Empowering the Oppressed by John Sommer (study guide available) and Fearless Minds by Vivek Pandit. For more information about UUHIP, please contact the UUA's International Resources Office.

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