Support Women’s Food Forests in Guatemala
Why Contribute to this Project? Communities that produce their own food are independent, resilient, and powerful. They are also far healthier – both their bodies and their lands, with women playing a critical role in the food security, health, and nutrition of their families. By donating, you will enhance the participation of women and girls in biodiversity regeneration and conservation processes, forging a food-sovereign, equitable, healthy, and environmentally sustainable future.
What Will the Funds Be Used for? Your support will expand tree planting through women’s associations in Caxlanpom and Chinabenque, indigenous communities in mountainous northeastern Guatemala. A historically persecuted group, the Q’eqchiʼ Maya have been actively resisting a foreign-owned mine that has polluted nearby waterways. 23 Q’eqchiʼ households will receive 3 progressive rounds of diverse fruit trees during the year-long project, plus field training on tree maintenance and the use of contour planting to manage erosion.
What Are the Expected Outcomes? Families in the two Q’eqchiʼ communities will have planted 2,300 fruit trees and strengthened their capacities to use and maintain biodiversity for food and economic security. Increased use of agroforestry species has profound environmental benefits and makes a significant contribution to improving the communities’ nutritional status and health.
This project is organized by the International Women’s Convocation (IWC), a global partnership of Unitarian* Universalists who work for women’s empowerment through U*U connections around the world. We are living our U*U values by demonstrating our respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part as well as commitment to a just, compassionate, and sustainable world.
Ecosystem Restoration Camps is a growing network of ecological restoration efforts around the world that are working to repair the relationship between people and healthy ecosystems. Erin Beasley, Executive Director of Ecosystems Restoration Camps USA, is a UU who has been closely involved with IWC since 2015.
Contour Lines leads reforestation programs in Guatemala to integrate productive (food and fiber) trees with annual agricultural crops. The results are resilient, diversified farms with full, local ownership and benefits to the local ecosystems such as improved soil health, increased tree cover, and maintained biodiversity. Their family-focused approach engages participants in successive rounds of planting to get more fruit trees into the hands of the most committed participants. Since 2018, the organization has planted over 120,000 trees in degraded land with 1,200 local residents in 37 communities.
Herlinda Xo Caal, leader of the women’s associations of the two communities: “I’m looking forward to this project because I want to secure the future of my family to have healthy food. I believe that our community can produce our own food, and we should have the right to choose what we eat, and be able to eventually sell food that is free of chemicals. The increased use of land without conservation practices has been a problem in my community. This project will bring multiple benefits, including workshops on soil conservation, how to diversify our crops, and the use of organic products that won’t harm the environment. We’re working together to reforest the land and take care of the environment.”
ALAY: Support and Solidarity with Indigenous Communities
DISASTER RELIEF: All donations processed as they are given.
Unitarian Universalists in partnership with Indigenous communities are organizing a mutual aid fundraiser to provide immediate food relief to 500 families in Mindanao, Visayas, and Luzon regions of the Philippines. Indigenous communities have been hard hit by the pandemic lockdowns, experiencing a loss of work, and more extreme hunger.
Grounded in long-term relationships, our community ministry is centered on decolonizing, cultural exchange, and led by Dr. Grace Nono, a UU aspirant for the ministry and founder of the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts, a collective with over 25 years of partnerships. The Philippines has a unique history as the largest historical colony of the United States of America and the organic development of Unitarian Universalism since 1955.
Donors are also invited to attend a special fundraising concert:
ALAY: Support and Solidarity with Indigenous Communities
Cultural Performance and Fundraiser
with Dr. Grace Nono
Via Zoom and FB Live
Philippines: Saturday, July 31st 9:30 am to 11:30 am
USA: Friday, July 30th 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm Eastern time
COVID-19 continues to devastate the livelihood and threaten the future of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, communities that are also on the frontlines of land struggles, climate change, and long-standing socio-economic inequalities. Join us via Zoom or FB Live for ALAY (offering), a unique cultural performance by Dr. Grace Nono in support of selected Dumagat, Ati and Samu Dilaut (Badao) Indigenous communities in the Philippines that have been adversely affected by the lockdowns.
Grace will be performing songs that draw from over two decades of relationships with culture bearers/ mentors, and solidarity with a number of communities through the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts. Funds will support food assistance for over 500 households. The Center for Organizing, Renewal, and Leadership, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Metro Manila, DRUUMM Asian Pacific Islander Caucus, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Humanist Alliance Philippines International and more are co-sponsoring this fundraising concert.
The Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts is a registered non-profit organization founded by Dr. Grace Nono, dedicated to contribute to the collective task of reclaiming, honoring, and revitalizing indigenous knowledge systems and practices in the postcolonial/ neocolonial times. Since 1994, the foundation has engaged with various communities through scholarships for indigenous students, cultural publications, the Agusan del Sur–School of Living Traditions, and the Himig Ninuno Philippine Traditional Music Webinar Series.
Dr. Grace Nono is an aspirant for the Unitarian Universalist ministry, recently studying at Yale Divinity School. Born and raised in the river valley of Agusan, Northeastern Mindanao, Southern Philippines, Grace Nono is an ethnomusicologist, music-performing artist, and cultural worker. Grace completed her PhD through NYU’s Ethnomusicology Program, has taught at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Miriam College, and Harvard Divinity School. She has published works including The Shared Voice: Chanted and Spoken Narratives from the Philippines, winner of the 2009 National Book Awards (Arts), and Song of the Babaylan: Living Voices, Medicines, Spiritualities of Philippine Ritualist-Oralist-Healers, winner of the 2014 Gintong Aklat Award (Arts and Culture) and 2014 Catholic Book Award (Spirituality).
Help Create a Brighter Future for Vulnerable Transylvanian Girls
DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately
(NO ALL-OR-NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)
Background. At the height of nationwide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 1.6 billion children were affected by school closures, causing the largest mass disruption of education in modern history (Source: UNICEF). Many schools around the world, including in Romania, remain closed or experience intermittent closures, making remote learning essential to children’s education. Although Romanian authorities promised to ensure that all children have the necessary devices to join the online educational system, the distribution of devices has often not reached children from vulnerable groups.
What will the funds be used for? In times of crisis, access to digital technologies is critical. The International Women’s Convocation has teamed up with the Unitarian Providence Charity Organization to provide electronic devices (laptops) for girls who are disadvantaged or living with disabilities – from both rural and urban areas – so they will be able to attend school remotely.
Vulnerable girls cannot afford interruption in their education. Disruption to learning only exacerbates existing inequalities, leaving girls even more vulnerable to abuse, early pregnancy, and poverty. With your help, we can provide access to education for girls who may not otherwise have the chance in a COVID-19 world — and ensure that they have the choice to write their own futures. Thank you for your support!
Project Partner: Unitarian Providence Charity Organization, whose mission is to fulfill the vocation of the Hungarian Unitarian Church by serving people and communities in need without discrimination. The project benefits economically disadvantaged girls and girls with disabilities in Transylvania. Through this project, we are living our U*U values, bringing positive change in the world by connection, care, compassion, social justice, and service.
Rev. Attila Vagyas (on the right), Providence Organization (Gondviselés Segélyszervezet): Even though Romania is part of the European Union and thus beneficiary of EU’s social development programs, many are left behind. Our organization reaches many isolated rural communities, where we have gotten to know vulnerable girls full of potential. In these troubled times, when remote learning is the new normal, access to a digital device has become a matter of access to basic education – and an opportunity to make the most of one’s life. With your help, we can give some of these girls a hope for the future.
Some of the Beneficiaries
Insulated Coveralls for the Homeless
At Grenfell Ministries we are a Unitarian Universalist outreach in Hamilton, Ontario.
Due to assistance from Cantex Distribution (a company in Niagara) we have been able to secure a really great deal on quilted, insulated coveralls and instead of paying $250 a pair we are able to pay $40 a pair. With four thousand dollars we can put 100 of these on the street for folks suffering this winter with homelessness. We have already place 25 into circulation and have ordered 30 more.
Grenfell Ministries, a Unitarian Universalist faith-based Ministry that aims to provide support to marginalized communities through programming that focuses on seniors, youth, those experiencing homelessness folks who use substances, and those who are or were formerly incarcerated. We serve with integrity, compassion and promote individuality and self-empowerment. We are committed to building communities through advocacy and activism.
We are a peer-run, peer-led organization that strives to improve the quality of life for those we serve on their terms. In solidarity, we offer organized voices of lived experience in the hopes of encouraging programming, policy adaptation and to reduce stigma and discrimination. We collaborate with various organizations and services to assist folks with meeting their needs and offer grief support to families who have lost loved ones to the overdose epidemic on an individual and group basis.
Our projects have received funding in part by the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility, United Way Phase 2 and Phase 3 Funding for COVID-19 pandemic response and the Hamilton Community Foundation.
UU Free Library | Philippines
We live in an era of incredible story-telling and the recentering of peoples and communities who have been historically exploited, marginalized, and invisibilized. Books are at the center of lifelong learning, building community, and making meaning.
As new literature and media expand, there remains however a deep inequality. Throughout much of Southeast Asia, books are a luxury and public libraries are rare. For millions here, a book costs a week’s salary. Many cities and barangays (neighborhoods) lack a public library. Few feminist, liberal religious, environmental justice, and human rights books are available.
CORAL is a Unitarian Universalist community ministry based in Southeast Asia. We are establishing a small free library in line with our liberal religious and social change mission. We seek to collect, steward, and lend progressive books that are more difficult for ordinary people to find. We are based in Antipolo City, just East of Metro Manila in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains as part of a larger cohousing community. Learn more about us at www.coralph.org.
As Unitarian Univeraliasts, we believe deeply in the ongoing search for truth and meaning. For many of us, this has meant a loving relationship with literature. Lending and gifting books are an incredible way to build connections between people, and introduce new ideas to keep our “mind on fire” as Emerson might say. We seek donations of books, and small financial contributions to help us ship and organize donated books.
Support COVID-Relief for Unitarians in North East India
DISASTER RELIEF CAMPAIGN: ALL donations will be processed immediately
(NO ALL-OR NOTHING GOAL FOR THIS CAMPAIGN)
Background. India currently has the largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Asia, the 2nd highest in the world. The state of Meghalaya, home of some 10,000 Unitarians, has been experiencing record daily spikes since mid-August. Lack of medicines, improper treatment, and insufficient testing laboratories – on top of a poor public health system – are exacerbating the health crisis.
To make matters worse, many homes of Unitarian families were damaged by the monsoon rains. Seng Kynthei, the Women’s Wing of the Unitarian Union of North East India has taken up social projects to help in the fight against COVID-19, such as distribution of masks in rural areas (see project image), as well as provided limited financial aid for the rebuilding of damaged houses and emergency food supplies. However, more funds are needed to strengthen Seng Kynthei’s initiative to confront the COVID-crisis and help prevent further community spread. The project also intends to address teenage pregnancy and child marriage, which the prolonged government-imposed lockdown has aggravated all over India.
What are the goals of this project? The project will provide COVID-19 awareness programs and care packages for families, stimulate behavioral change toward stigma and discrimination of infected individuals, and address mental health impacts of the pandemic. Awareness programs will also include community education and mobilization to prevent teenage pregnancies and early marriages during the health crisis.
Rev. Nangroi Suting, General Secretary, UUNEI
The Unitarian Union of North East India (UUNEI) is happy to learn of this project of Seng Kynthei, in collaboration with the International Women’s Convocation (IWC). Having witnessed the commitment and resourcefulness of the members, I have a strong conviction that Seng Kynthei will take up the challenge responsibly.
Elgiva Dora Shullai, Seng Kynthei Global Sisters Coordinator and IWC board member
Covid-19 throws a challenge to human sustenance. Seng Kynthei has been trying to reach out to the less privileged in the form of relief efforts and awareness programs, especially for rural women and young adults. I am positive that this project will benefit young women and girls in these difficult times.
This is a project of the International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women, dba International Women’s Convocation (IWC), in partnership with Seng Kynthei, the Women’s Wing of the Unitarian Union of North East India. The project benefits Unitarian communities in North East India, contributing to the overall well-being and health of individuals and the entire Khasi society. Through this project, we are living our U*U values, bringing positive change in the world by connection, care, compassion, social justice, and service. IWC and Seng Kynthei have a strong ongoing collaboration – please see more here. Thank you for your support!
Volunteers cancel, Guatemala town struggles
Named after the Brazilian environmental activist, Chico Mendes, who lost his life protecting the rainforests, the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project was started in 1998, when the loss of forests and its consequences were evident to those living in Pachaj, Guatemala. This community is located near Quetzaltenango, in the Northwest Highlands of Guatemala. Jorge Armando Lopez Pocol, a respected forester, and his family established a nursery and organizes the village as well as international volunteers to plant seeds, grow seedlings, and protect trees. The average number of trees planted each year in the last five years is 15,000. Currently, Jorge Armando has 40,000 trees ready to be planted.
One of Jorge Armando’s main goals is to plant the pinabete tree on the mountainside near his community. The pinabete is the one tree where the rare Quetzal, national bird of Guatemala, will nest. Planting the pinabete thwarts mining companies from destroying the mountainsides and will ensure good water quality for the village.
See the Chico Mendes website: https://www.chicomendesguatemala.org
Because of the pandemic, nine volunteer groups scheduled to plant trees in Guatemala for The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project have canceled. This is devastating for a community that is living on the edge. The Project depends on volunteer groups to transfer seedlings and to plant young trees, which in turn helps support the reforesting of the mountainsides. In addition, income for the community is generated when volunteers pay to stay with families and take Spanish language classes. Without this income, the families and Spanish teachers will lack funds to feed their families.
From the three service-learning trips, many in our congregation have ties to the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project and have been supportive in past fundraisers. Our UU accreditation as a Green Sanctuary congregation was due in part from this partnership. In addition, we are knowledgeable about other groups who have traveled or were planning to travel there this spring and summer. We are also well connected to various environmental groups and will communicate the needs of this project to them.
The funds raised will go for seeds, fertilizer, tools, supplies, and staff salaries to maintain the young trees and protect the forests. Families who provide homestays and Spanish teachers will be compensated.
Contributions and support now will ensure the continuation and survival of the Chico Mendes Reforestation project. The welfare of these community members and the protection of fragile ecosystems in the Guatemala Highlands also depend on contributions to weather the current crisis caused by the pandemic. In the future groups will again take trips and plant trees with the villagers of Pachaj, hosted by Jorge Armando.
“When I was in Guatemala, I observed the Chico Mendes group grow healthy seedlings and plant trees where they had been cut down. Reforestation is an important job for humanity in terms of climate change.” -Dr. John Hartman, Plant Pathologist Emeritus, University of Kentucky
“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project not only provides clean air and water for the local people, but it also sends the message that sustainability is possible if everyone contributes. By donating to this cause, you will be improving the local people’s quality of life and showing the world how vital sustainability is for our well being”. -Justine Reschly, High School senior
“What most impressed me about the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Guatemala was the engagement and investment in youth. They didn’t just work on reforestation, but they educated, hired, and mentored youth to participate in their work. They understand the importance of youth education and involvement to bring change in future generations. “ -Meredith Gall, parent and participant
“The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project is as much a community and social justice effort as it is an environmental justice organization. Planting trees and protecting the environment is intimately related to protecting and providing for the local community. The connection with the local community both supports Chico Mendes and also provides a community stake in both the project and their environment. Our family’s connection with the community was good for us, them and, I firmly believe, the wider world.” -Dan Gall, parent and participant
Support Military Ministry
In World War II, the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) was founded to reach out to those who were serving our country both at home and abroad. Today, our Military Ministry program is one of the CLF’s leading outreach programs. There are over 25 Unitarian Universalist chaplains serving in all branches of the Military, located all over the United States and in Germany. The CLF supports UU military chaplaincy and active and returning military members.
Every dollar you donate will be tripled!
Can you give $50 to support the CLF Military Ministry today?
By contributing to the success of this Faithify Campaign,
you will be helping hundreds of service members across the globe.
Unitarian Universalists have served, and do serve, in the military (sometimes this feels like the best-kept secret in our denomination). In recognition of this, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has made strides towards welcoming military personnel and veterans into our congregations. In 2010, the UUA issued a Statement of Conscience entitled “Creating Peace” in which they declare:
“We bear witness to the right of individuals and nations to defend themselves, and acknowledge our responsibility to be in solidarity with others in countering aggression…We affirm a range of individual choices, including military service and conscientious objection…as fully compatible with Unitarian Universalism. For those among us who make a formal commitment to military service, we will honor their commitment, welcome them home, and offer pastoral support.”
Unitarian Universalist military members may have difficulty finding religious support that reflects their progressive values. These challenges often continue when UUs come home. Veterans may feel isolated and wonder how they will be welcomed back to their congregations.
That’s where the CLF Military Ministry comes in. We aim to provide spiritual support to service members and their families during active duty and when they come home. While educating and empowering the next generation of military chaplains to continue this crucial work.
“Marines would fall asleep in two minutes if I read a sermon to them. They expect 100% authenticity and 100% excellence, and if it’s not there, they don’t trust you. Preaching at the Church of the Larger Fellowship strengthened my instincts for creating sermons without writing a word. This has been an essential part of my success in chaplaincy.
—Susan Maginn, U.S. Navy Chaplain
Rev. Jake Morrill, former military chaplain, and current CLF Board Member, writes:
Whether in combat or not, a Service member’s duty involves ongoing decision-making, with high moral stakes. Promoting and supporting the capacity for ethical decision-making leads to an even more ethical, morally-grounded military culture. Military ministry is important because people in uniform, mostly young adults, are often encountering stressors different from stressors in civilian life…
In the military Unitarian Universalist ministry, in particular, plays an important role. As the military population, like the rest of the country, becomes steadily more secular and “un-churched,” a Unitarian Universalist military ministry can support meaning-making in the Humanist tradition. Unitarian Universalist ministry in the military celebrates GBLTQ Service members and their Families, and can provide vital programming, with an ethic of inclusion. When a Service member is Pagan or practices some other minority-status faith tradition or expression of spirituality, Unitarian Universalist ministry in the military doesn’t balk, but instead supports the free expression of that person’s faith, as upheld by the First Amendment.
When you donate $50, we receive $150.
Every single gift is being tripled.
The Church of the Larger Fellowship is crucial to the formation and support of military chaplains (MCs) around the world. We have built a sustainable pipeline to create and support the next generation of MCs. How do we do this?
- We serve as the MCs home congregation
- We provide pastoral support to MCs
- We host monthly meetings for MCs
- We assess aspirant MCs
- We provide MCs a congregation to which they can officially affiliate as community ministers and receive support
In short, we give military chaplains (who move around frequently) a place to call their own.
Your donation will help us provide resources to service members around the globe.
With your funding we can provide our military personnel and their family with:
Online Community Gathering Space
Written Resources and Materials
Read more about our Military Ministry program at www.clfuu.org/military.
*Due to generosity from the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock and a coalition of 12 individual donors, every dollar will be tripled.
Support Seminary Students...
This spring, Starr King School for the Ministry is running its first-ever pilgrimage in the Holy Land within its ECO model of educating to counter oppressions and build just and sustainable communities.
This semester long-course, entitled “Reviving Pilgrimage: Decolonizing Religious Travel to the Holy Land,” involves a 10-day pilgrimage mid-semester of Spring 2020 in order for students to both engage in historical forms of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish pilgrimage while also challenging the paradigm of pilgrimage and the religious pilgrim’s role in colonization.
Over the course of the semester, students will ask the questions: What does it mean, as a religious leader, to visit the Holy Land in these times? Is pilgrimage possible in the midst of occupation and colonization? How is bearing witness to injustice a political tool in liberation movements, and what more is required of us? How does travel to the Holy Land require of us responsivity to the moral and political crisis on the ground? How can we challenge the white/western saviour complex in the way we travel? How can we move from charity to solidarity? How can we move from religious tourism to pilgrimage? How do we, as people of faith, put faith into action?
In our times, we desperately need religious leaders with a critical awareness of and engagement with the political realities of the Holy Land today. Help Unitarian Universalism be a model for training its leaders for this crucial ministry. Your donation will go to off-set student travel costs, rendering this trip affordable for a socioeconomically and religiously diverse student body. Class registrants include students from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Unitarian Universalist faith traditions.
We need an additional $6000 in the next 30 days to make the trip possible for this upcoming cohort of faith leaders. Can you support us?
Course instructor Faryn Borella and two of the registered students, Lisa Kynvi and Ariel Aaronson-Eves, recorded the segments in the video for this campaign explaining the concept of the trip and its importance to them.
This fundraiser is cosponsored by Starr King School for the Ministry, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, and Friends of Sabeel North America.
Thank you for your support.
International Youth Pilgrimage
The Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and the Országos Dávid Ferenc Ifjúsági Egylet (ODFIE)—the youth wing of the Hungarian Unitarian Church in Transylvania and Hungary—are proud to collaborate on a pilgrimage and summer camp in Transylvania. The pilgrimage/camp will take place in July 2020. The UUPCC and ODFIE last collaborated on a highly successful summer camp in 2016. ODFIE runs the largest Unitarian or Unitarian Universalist youth camp operation in the world.
The UUPCC interviewed an impressive number of applicants before selecting fifteen North American youth who will go on the trip. The exceptional youth accepted on the trip come from coast to coast. ODFIE will choose a roughly equal number of Transylvanian youth to join in the experience.
During the pilgrimage and youth camp, we intend to foster community through encouraging personal connections between cultures and empowering youth through discussion groups, home visits with local families, camp games, etc. The group will also visit culturally and religiously significant sites in Unitarianism to help them grow in their own spirituality and knowledge of our faith. These sites will include Déva where Francis David died in prison, Torda where the Edict of Torda was debated and proclaimed, and Gyulafehérvár where early Unitarian leaders King John Sigismund and his mother Queen Isabella are buried. ODFIE will choose a service project for North American and Transylvanian youth to work on together. Before the pilgrimage and youth camp, we will work with youth and their advisors to ensure their cultural competency and preparedness for an intense and transformational journey. This will include Zoom sessions as well as a few days together in New York City before flying to Transylvania.
Visiting Transylvania—in many ways the birthplace of Unitarianism—and getting to know kinfolk in faith from a different country will help North American youth participants grow deeper spiritually and become more skilled at intercultural engagement. They will experience firsthand some of our most important religious roots, as well as our faith’s rich past and deep, complicated present. Building cross-cultural community through shared activities, worship, common meals and visiting sacred sites will help participants sharpen their community building skills and create lifetime friendships. More than anything, they will learn about themselves and their spiritual journey through leaving their ordinary rhythm and living in a liminal space full of adventure and opportunity. Through this pilgrimage/camp, they each have the possibility to return home a changed person.
We hope that the pilgrimage/camp will deepen youth participants’ sense of UU identity and strengthen their commitment to continue engaging with our faith as they bridge into adulthood. Young adults who have had deep experiences of our faith such as this will help our faith thrive for many decades to come. In their own unique way, each youth who goes on the pilgrimage/camp could make important and lasting contributions to U/U congregations in North America and internationally.
The North American youth will be accompanied by three adults over twenty-five years old. The advisors will include a minister and a religious educator. The process of selecting the advisors and every aspect of the trip will be guided by the UUA’s youth safety guidelines.
The cost for the North American youth and adult advisors to go on the trip is around $2,100 per youth. A grant from the UU Funding Program and (hopefully) a successful Faithify campaign will help make the trip affordable for every youth who has been accepted into the program. Reaching the Faithify campaign goal of $10,000 will pay for about 60% of the youth overseas airline tickets. Additional funding will come from the UU Partner Church Council, fundraisers at the youths’ congregations, and youth families.
Empower Marginalized Bolivian Women to Create Change!
Background. The project builds on a pilot leadership development program implemented with funds raised on Faithify in 2018. It took place in District 7 of Viacha (near the Bolivian capital, La Paz), home to indigenous Aymara, where women are mostly street vendors (and thus part of the informal economy). The initiative consisted of bi-weekly training courses in sewing, hairdressing, and baking, over a three-month period (August-October 2018). The practical trainings were complemented with workshops addressing economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, leadership, gender and society (with a special topic on masculinity, machoism, and femicides), prevention of domestic violence, and spirituality and meditation. The training was an inspiring spark for the 45 participants to think about paths to better livelihoods and to confront their situation of gender marginality. Project leader Calixta Choque Churata, a Unitarian from Viacha, would now like “to move forward and reach more women and girls who feel the need to be trained and empowered.” Given the success of the pilot training, interest in the continuation of the program is high. Please read more information about the pilot program here.
How will the funds be used? Funds will be used to implement practical courses in cooking and developing healthy food habits, hairdressing, sewing and making eco products; as well as leadership training focusing on capacity building in areas such as self-esteem development, gender equality, economic empowerment and entrepreneurial skills, prevention of violence, environmental education, and women in environmental decision-making. The participants will be selected by the local organizing team. Training sessions will take place twice weekly, over three months. Funds will be used for educational materials, training supplies, logistics, and the cost of trainers. The participants will enhance their ability to better manage their finances, be confident of their rights, and have a marketable skill. These results will decrease their level of vulnerability and discrimination and increase their ability to be financially independent. Graduates of the program can become resource persons for future training sessions.
Calixta Choque Churata, project leader (text of the video above): Life for women in Bolivia is difficult. “Machismo” culture is deeply entrenched. Sexism, misogyny, and violence are everyday occurrences. Many women are economically inactive and have limited job opportunities. That is why I believe that this program is a great opportunity for economically disadvantaged and marginalized women in Viacha to acquire tools and skills, gain confidence, develop leadership competencies, and achieve greater economic independence. This program offers marketable job skills – such as sewing, cooking or hairdressing – as well as business and leadership training. When women and girls are provided with training and entrepreneurial opportunities, they can challenge patriarchal norms and stereotypes; they can enter the workforce, build better livelihoods, and take on leadership roles in their communities. They can become role models to others. They can even start their own income-generating businesses. Please consider pledging to this project to give these women a dream. A dream to improve her livelihood. A dream to reach her financial independence. A dream to become a leader in her community. A dream to create her own future. Thank you! Gracias!
Participants in the Pilot Program
Delia Alexandra Fernández Vargas: I am 18 years old. This is my last year of school. I want to go to the university. I am thinking of studying biochemistry. I took the hairdressing training course because I like to learn hairstyles, hair care, new looks. I learned many useful things: for example, skin lightening, facial cleaning, hair care, massages, hair and skin hydration, new looks, and types of hair dyes. The teacher was very good. She knows her profession. I see myself doing hairstyles, hair dyes, or facial cleaning. I can offer these new skills. This training will definitely help me in the future. I wish I could learn so much more. The training course lasted a short time. I am grateful for what I learned. My heartfelt thanks go to all the people who gave us the opportunity of taking these courses.
Katharin Maldonado Tarqui: I am 14 years old. I come from a family with very limited resources. I took part in the hairdressing courses, which helped me get a job as a hairdresser’s assistant, during weekends, to supplement our small family income. I would like to continue this practical workshop as well as learn as much as I can about leadership and entrepreneurship – which will help me in my future. Who knows, I may be able to put my training towards starting my own business!
Project Partners. The Bolivian organizing team is made up of Unitarians from La Paz and surroundings. The project leaders, Calixta Choque Churata and Xiomara Salinas, attended IWC’s 2015 Gathering in Bolivia; Xiomara also attended IWC’s Third Women’s Convocation in California (February 2017). Our project partner is also the Unitarian Universalist community of La Paz, Bolivia (Comunidad Unitaria Universalista Boliviana).
Help Cassie attend GA 2019 in Spokane!
What I am doing in this role:
This will be my 4th General Assembly, and second year as volunteer staff for Young Adults at General Assembly (YA@GA). My first year as Co-Facilitator was in Kansas City in 2018 and we had a great GA, and I learned a lot. As the second year Co-Facilitator I will be supporting some of our brilliant young adult leaders, and passing on what I’ve learned in this position. My role involves working with the Youth and Young Adult staff at the UUA in creating the job descriptions, applications, and the selection of our yearly volunteer YA@GA staff. I also do ongoing work supporting leadership development, creation of workshops and social events for General Assembly, and ensuring everything runs smoothly at GA itself.
I have put a bit about who I am, outside this position. Watch this space for updates on what kind of content we are creating for young adults and the larger UU community at GA 2019!
Who I am:
As a life-long UU and expatriate of the US, I am personally and spiritually delighted to be able to return to the US to participate in GA again this year. I grew up in what is now the Southern District, at the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Texas. I attended UU summer camps in Oklahoma (SWUUSI) most of my childhood and into young adulthood and even Maine (Ferry Beach) a few summers as a preteen. Before I emigrated out of the north Texas area, I spent my Sundays at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, organizing workshops for the young adults, facilitating Coming of Age, and teaching Adult/Young Adult OWL.
I am dedicated to doing anti-racism work, such as the White Supremacy Teach-In at Auckland Unitarian and Undoing Racism with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond at GA in 2017. I am a member of Allies For Racial Equity leadership collective, and worked on the application for the Fund for Unitarian Universalism grant (which we were awarded!) to increase the organization’s ability to do anti-racism coaching, education, and activism work in our UU faith spaces.
Here in Aotearoa New Zealand I am a student researcher, pursuing a master’s of public health at the University of Otago on the South Island. I am exploring the positive experiences of transgender and gender diverse people with their doctors and hope to complete early in 2020. I also volunteer locally for teaching on LGBT+ issues for university faculty and student leadership, as well as organizing local transgender and gender expansive social meetups. There is not a U/U church in my area, but I have served as a delegate to Auckland Unitarian Church before and hope to again. Representing a congregation so far from the US, I present our community with a unique and rare opportunity to participate and engage with UUA politics and goings-on.
The nitty gritty:
Flights are about $1660.00 in total, my required international travel insurance will be around $125 USD this year. With the UUA travel stipend of $600.00 USD, it will require about $1300 to cover travel, travel insurance, and Faithify processing fees. Any money raised over that will go toward any unforeseen travel add ons!