In Haiti, recovery is slow but ongoing for the more than 2 million people affected by last year's devastating earthquake. In response to this horrific disaster, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) continue their joint relief effort to ensure recovery for all Haitians, especially those overlooked by mainstream aid.
As part of this process, the UUA and UUSC have joined together to create an experiential learning journey that will allow participants to be part of a hands-on eco-village building project. Starting May 24, this program will help 40 Haitian families rebuild their homes and their lives.
This past year, members of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), one of UUSC's partners in Haiti, set aside several hectares of land on Haiti's Central Plateau for families fleeing the destruction in Port-au-Prince. The eco-village planned for this spot, says MPP's Executive Director Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, will provide not just shelter but a means of livelihood from cultivating the land. In addition, the vision includes making the eco-village a center for new technology, where farmers can test and adapt energy- and resource-efficient modes of operation.
To kick off this rebuilding project, the UUA and UUSC have planned a JustWorks trip for seminarians to MPP's eco-village. During this experience, seminarians will work alongside members of MPP to help construct homes. The participation of the seminarians was made possible through full scholarships from the UUA, made possible by the generosity of UUA donors.
"I'm excited to participate in this joint experience with UUSC," says UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, "but I'm even more excited that 10 of our Unitarian Universalist seminarians will be spending time in Haiti on this project. Multicultural experiences like the JustWorks program are crucial to the formation of our future ministers."
A delegation of Unitarian Universalist leaders, including Rev. Morales and UUSC President and CEO Rev. William F. Schulz will provide spiritual and social-justice leadership as they work side by side with participants during this transformative journey. This delegation also will meet with some of UUSC's social-justice partners in Port-au-Prince.
“The first time I set foot in the developing world, I was transformed,” says Rev. Schulz. “I understood the world in a different way than I had before. I hope the seminarians with us on this trip will have a similar experience that will shape their ministries and our movement for years to come.”
As this social-justice sojourn unfolds, on-the-ground updates will be shared on the UUA and UUSC websites, offering photos and reflections on how service work and the shared experience in Haiti connect to the basic tenets of UU faith and ministry.
Read about the journey on the UUA International Office's blog, Faith Without Borders, and the UUSC's JustWorks blog. Also follow the latest updates on this inspiring trip on Twitter at @UUA and @UUSC and on the UUA’s and UUSC’s Facebook pages.
For more information about this JustWorks trip, Please contact Dick Campbell at dcampbell @ uusc.org or Daisy Kincaid at dkincaid @ uua.org. For general information about the Haiti Volunteer Program and upcoming service-learning opportunities, contact Sam Jones at sjones @ uusc.org.