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Service Programs

Service Projects in Summer 2011

Reports of service projects organized by UPF chapters in the summer of 2011.

HAITI – Offering Health Care and Education
by Evelyne Drake

A dozen nurses and students from the US offered health education and care to people in impoverished sections of Cap-Haitian from May 28 to June 4. This was the Women's Federation for World Peace's fourth annual service project in Haiti.

Eleven nurses and university students from across the United States were welcomed by Mayor Joseph and three Haitians: Gardy Charles, Douyon Dameus, and Dimache Jackson. Intensive health education was offered to 250 civic leaders, women leaders, and midwives. Mrs. Beatrice Abbott talked about hypertension, diabetes, infectious diseases, and malnutrition. Her husband spoke about first aid, CPR, and the Heimlich Maneuver. Mrs. Julia DePauw taught midwifery, Mrs. Lydia Martin dental hygiene, and Mrs. Margaret Brewster homeopathic first aid. Then they joined doctors from Alhmeda in holding clinics in Nan Banaan, an impoverished area of the city treating 150 patients with many kinds of ailments.

The students visited schools giving demonstrations about brushing teeth, distributing toothbrushes and toys, and playing games and singing with the students. We parted with great satisfaction at being able to help people physically as well as uplift them spiritually. 

ST. LUCIA: Fixing Homes and Making Friends
By Remy Taupier

Seven young Americans arrived in St. Lucia on August 7 to spend a week in the small fishing village of Anse-la-Raye. They were joined by ten St Lucians for a Religious Youth service experiential learning program, staying at the Anse-la-Raye Primary School, where the accommodations were very humble.

The first two days of the program were dedicated to learning more about each other, using various activities to help build trust and respect. The focus was on sharing and creating an atmosphere of openness while having fun. The young people painted ten houses belonging to senior citizens or disabled persons and gave a face-lift to the Catholic parish hall, which also serves as a community center.

Often young persons from the village joined in. When you sweat and endure the heat side by side, caring for others you can see the best in one another and feel closer to each other. In the process, people come to respect and appreciate each other.

The afternoons included visits to the beach, waterfalls, and the capital city; they also organized a village talent show. At the mass at the Anse-la-Raye Catholic Church, the participants sang for the congregation.

Dr. Rosemarie Mathurin, speaker of the St. Lucia House of Representatives visited the project site and challenged them to become responsible leaders in their communities.

SURINAME – Hosting a Friendship Americas Concert
By Georgia Pearson

Alumni of Religious Youth Service projects, under the distinguished patronage of the Director of Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, gathered at the Cultural Center in Parambiro for a “Friendship Americas” concert on May 14.

A Brazilian singer powerfully offered up her version of “We Are Family,” a song that reached the hearts of the audience dissolving barriers. Mr. John Sandriman, Director of Youth Affairs, delivered a very touching testimony, thanking Religious Youth Service for its work Suriname exemplifying the spirit of living for the sake of others. He stated that only through altruistic service will the people of the Americas – North and South – develop true and lasting friendship and brotherhood.

GEORGIA – Uniting in Actions of Love and Service
By Vitaly Maksimov

The Religious Youth Service project "Peace in South Caucasus: Unity through Actions of Love and Service" was held July 16 to 25 at Zugdidi in western Georgia. Twenty participants and eight staff members from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ivory Coast, and Russia represented Armenian, Georgian, and Russian Orthodox Christianity as well as the Catholic and Muslim faith traditions. They joined lived and worked together as an interfaith and international community.

The orientation helped generate the spirit of “one family under God.” Participants visited a Georgian Orthodox church, a synagogue, and a mosque and learned from the leaders about the relevance of a spiritual life and religious traditions to the task of peacebuilding.

The volunteers renovated classrooms at the Zugdidi Orphanage and cleaning and improved the school environment. They also held basketball and football training sessions and read books to the children. A cultural program showcased the various cultures of participants.

The children at the orphanage supported the efforts, helped plant fruit trees, and organized a concert. Local officials attended the final program and listened reflections from the participants.

RUSSIA: Creating a Peace Park in Siberia
By Dmitry Oficerov

“Cherish Friendship, Create a Peace Park” was the theme of a Religious Youth Service Project August 15 to 21 in Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia. Many nationalities of people have long lived in Russia, and while many friendly relations exist, there are increasing armed clashes, some with a pronounced religious character. This project challenged participants to be agents of positive change by overcoming barriers, developing friendships, and helping to reconcile people on conflicting sides.

We planned to hold the program at the House of National Cultures but at the last minute we had to change our site to the Veterans' Home of Novosibirsk. There were about 70 participants, mostly students from Iran, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, USA, and different places of Russia.

Each day was marked by practicing a value, such as purity, beauty, love, life, unity, peacemaking, and family, in hope that people of different nationalities and traditions can recognize common values, learn to coexist in peace, and form lasting bonds.

Daily projects for the benefit of the veterans included repair work, planting flowers, and painting benches and pavilions. The schedule included visits to religious and cultural sites. Some participants came to understand their own religion more deeply. Others who knew little about religion gained some first-hand understanding.

After a discussion about conflicts, reconciliation and peace, participants made a map of the world, with stones representing continents surrounded by oceans of flowers. In the center was the Pacific Ocean, a symbol of tranquility, with a floral bridge of peace representing the vision of a Bering Strait crossing connecting Russia and America.

The young people found happiness in working for the benefit of lonely elderly people who needed support and attention, and they organized a musical program for them. At the end, one participant said, “I got the main point of the project as desire to abolish the borders dividing people of different races, religions and nationalities.”

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