Part of my initiatives as an OEP Migrant Justice Organizer intern has been to familiarize people with conditions at the southern border and to possibly encourage others to visit and volunteer there personally. A friend recently returned from a weeklong trip to help one of the most active volunteer groups and shared her reflections with me below:
Reflections by Risa Paskoff, Lisa Rohde, and Joanne Berkowitz of Lancaster, PA
At the present time, many of us are facing a variety of challenges, personally as well as within our own communities and then on a larger scale, within our state and our country.
Experiencing stress and uncertainty are common and frequent emotions for a number of people. Given these possible challenges, for most of us, our basic needs are most likely being met. We have a roof over our heads, clothing, and food in our homes or access to meals at various houses of worship and/or non-profit organizations on an ongoing basis. We live in an area that is relatively safe and for the most part, we are not afraid of driving down a certain street or walking through a specific neighborhood.
For those who are living either in Mexico or recently crossed the Texas/Mexico border, this is not the case. People of all ages are experiencing food insecurity as well as not having their basic needs met. If they have crossed the border, they may only have the clothes that they are wearing. Their shoes might just be flip flops which will not be suitable once the cold weather arrives, especially for those who will be traveling north to their sponsors. Women express a need for feminine products as well as diapers and wipes for their young children. Men ask for underwear and a belt as their belts were taken away at the detention center by border patrol agents, for “fear they might hurt themselves.” On my recent trip to the border one little boy was given a blue sweatshirt and he was so excited as it matched his only pair of sweatpants. As he left us, he gave each of the volunteers a high five. A sweatshirt that many of us take for granted and many of us have more than one.Read more
From December 2 - 18, immigration advocates will make a 2200-mile Journey for Justice, a 16-day border pilgrimage being spearheaded by Witness at the Border. Advocates will travel in honor and remembrance of the lives of all migrants and asylum seekers who have suffered and even perished at the US-Mexico border. The journey includes stops at key border towns to show a sign of solidarity and spend the day helping those in need. It also represents the Mexican tradition of pidiendo posada, seeking shelter among strangers. The event culminates on Sunday, December 18, International Migrants Day. Bring a teaching moment to your congregation’s children with a Children’s Christmas Journey for Justice.Read more
It all started with the sharing of stories of real families crossing our border to find safety and work, an open-hearted pastor, a willing religious education teacher, and dozens of eager grade schoolers. At Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Palmyra, PA, September meant collecting donations to fill hygiene kits for migrant children and their families. The children in grades 1-6 collected enough toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, combs, soaps, washcloths, blankets, and handmade cards to fill 125 drawstring bags which will help families who have nothing when they arrive at the International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas.
The Church of the Brethren Womaens Caucus recently announced its partnership with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)! The partnership will provide training is guidance in compassionate care on all pregnancy journeys and decisions.
The training consists of 20-25 hours of self-guided study and then three zoom sessions with a leader from RCRC to walk through the parts that cannot be self-guided. The dates for those zoom sessions are November 17, December 15 and January 19, you can receive 2.6 CEU units for this.
If you'd like to participate, sign up through RCRC's website and then email [email protected] letting them know you've done that.
Daryl Mifsud serves as OEP's Development Organizer intern. He reflects on On Earth Peace's impact in his life during his internship.
Why are you drawn/applied to On Earth Peace?
In the simplest way, I wanted to spend my time and energy working with an NGO that puts their values and mission first, before anything else. Apart from On Earth Peace strong philosophy and beliefs, I was really drawn to OEP as it is able to cover a plethora of issues that plague our societies, and do so in a manner which centers the individuals and communities which many times are effected or a part of struggle, and this speaks volumes to the quality and genuinity of work we're trying to achieve.Read more