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. Rev. Eric Cherry, Director of the UUA’s International Office, is taking part and offers his thoughts on this joint Service Learning trip. The first trip will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 24, and continue until Jan. 27. The delegation is led by the Rev. Peter Morales, UUA President, who encourages UUs throughout the country to participate in one of the Service Learning trips planned for April and May with BorderLinks. During the trip, the group will learn about and work with several organizations, including the following:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.