Social Action

Human rights, community development and the like

Group gains award for e-waste collection - Earth Keepers honored

MARQUETTE — In recognition of several environmental projects, including this spring’s collection of more than 320 tons of electronic waste across northern Michigan, the Earth Keeper organization will be presented an award this weekend from the Lake Superior Binational Program.

The local group will be honored on Sunday with an Environmental Stewardship award during Lake Superior Day at Barker’s Island Pavilion in Superior, Wis. The binational program will honor 11 other winners from the U.S. and Canada in the Lake Superior basin in several other categories, including youth, adult, individual, industry, business, and community organization.

The Earth Keeper project is coordinated by nine faith communities Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist, Bahai, Jewish and Zen Buddhist; two environmental groups, the Central Lake Superior Watershed Partnership and The Cedar Tree Institute; two dozen core organization members across the U.P.; and a Northern Michigan University student group. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community has been a partner in the first two clean sweeps.

Full story...

See also Collecting "e-waste" is an interfaith effort (Baha'i World News Service).

Odoki wants bold, outspoken clerics

WELCOME: Kadaga receives Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala to the fellowship on Friday

WELCOME: Kadaga receives Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala to the fellowship on Friday

Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki has said Ugandans want to see religious leaders who are bold and outspoken about national issues in a wise and responsible manner.

Odoki was addressing a fellowship for MPs and religious leaders at the parliamentary Gardens on Friday. The Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) organised it.

Present was deputy Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and representatives from religious groups such as the Bahai Faith.

“I do believe that the role of a religious leader is not simply limited to preaching the good news of salvation.

“That is certainly an important role, but not the only one. Many of you will recall that some of the prophets in the Bible were very bold and outspoken. They confronted leaders and pointed out their shortcomings,” Odoki said.

He added, “They issued warnings. They also urged leaders and the nation at large to repent whenever they erred. That, I think, is the kind of role that Ugandans would be happy to see our religious leaders playing consistently.

Full story...

Orphanage a home away from home

Emily Dragoman, 21, of Guelph is volunteering for three months at an orphanage in Honduras. She will continue her studies at the University of Guelph in September.

GUELPH (Jul 7, 2006)

With daily temperatures soaring past 40 degrees and no running water in the small Honduran village of La Villa San Antonio, Emily Dragoman is far from the comforts of home.

In April, the 21-year-old left her family in Guelph and settled in as a volunteer at Hogar Tierra Santa, an orphanage that is home to 150 children in Honduras.

"We try to give them as much (love and attention) as possible but they always need more," Dragoman wrote in an e-mail message.

The orphanage is overcrowded, rundown and has serious financial needs. And with only five full-time caregivers, it's hard to meet the needs of the children, who range in age from a few months old to 18, Dragoman said.

That's why volunteers are essential for its survival.

"I volunteer because I feel like it's the right thing to do," said Dragoman, who will be entering her third year of studies in the fall at University of Guelph.

Dragoman is also a Baha'i youth -- a young member of the Baha'i faith, which teaches that humanitarian work and serving others is important.

"Every once in a while I just get this overwhelming feeling that I should be doing something more, and that's when I have to leave and serve," said Dragoman, who also volunteered in Brazil three years ago.

"Life in Canada is amazing but I could never appreciate it fully unless I did things like this."

Full story...

Do unto others - Congregations can live out faith by volunteering

Sharon Clayton volunteered her time to paint the mural in the children’s section of the Johnstown Public Library.
Times-Call/Jackie Endsley
 LONGMONT — Restoring the Soul, a project that promotes partnerships between faith communities and human-service agencies in Boulder County, had invited about 250 area congregations to volunteer for the Foothills United Way’s Day of Caring on Aug. 25.

The Day of Caring is a one-day volunteer effort during which groups and individuals complete service projects at area nonprofits and human service agencies.

This year’s original deadline passed. Three groups signed up.

Yet, “I’m very pleased,” said project director Tania Leontov at a brown-bag discussion hosted by Restoring the Soul at the Boulder Shambhala Meditation Center on Tuesday.

The discussion focused on how volunteers in the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Baha’i communities could use volunteering to deepen their spiritual paths.

“Often a congregation will have people volunteering in different projects, but the volunteers have no one to talk to about their experiences and how their spiritual path might be involved,” Leontov said. “There is a disconnect from the scriptural inspiration of the faiths (for service) and our daily lives.”

Full story...

Journey of the mind

How Socrates, Bernini and Sartre enriched 16 lives

On the first night of class, Judy Fuwell said a silent prayer that she was doing the right thing. Because, really, who did she think she was, signing up for an eight-month course in the humanities? The humanities! What good would that do? Her husband was so angry, he wasn't speaking to her. "You can't go to school," he said. "Who's going to be home? Who's going to cook dinner?"

From left, Barbra Moeller, Dot Richeda, Steve Acevedo and Lisa DeHerrera are four diverse students who have reaped the benefits of the Venture Course in the Humanities.

At 52, Fuwell has spent most of her life taking care of other people: four children, one of them autistic, and now a father-in-law with Alzheimer's and a grandson whose mother was a meth addict. A few years ago, Fuwell was diagnosed with breast cancer, and before that her husband had been laid off from his factory job. Without health insurance, the family had struggled, and even now their lives were often about just getting through each day. Now she wanted to study philosophy and art history?

She had 19 classmates that first night, including a woman who had spent four years in prison, a single mother who was once homeless and a Baha'i refugee from Iran. They had all signed on for the first-ever Venture Course in the Humanities, a program of the Utah Humanities Council. Funded by two foundations, it offered free books, tuition, child care, bus passes, college professors and eight hours of college credit. The only requirements were that the students be low-income, be able to read newspaper-level English and have a hunger to learn.

Full story...