Destination Dignity! Partnering with Refugees in Greece to Build a Vocational School and Worker’s Cooperative.
This a wonderful opportunity for UUs to partner with refugee communities in Greece as they seek to re-establish lives of worth and dignity. Over 65,000 refugees have been trapped in Greece for more than 2 years. Many are beginning to lose hope and to despair of ever being acknowledged as anything other than a “refugee.” This Worker’s Cooperative in Athens will be the first of its kind in Greece: designed, managed, and staffed by refugees….and supported by UUs!
Our purpose: to prepare people with vocational skills suitable for employment while also producing products and services for sale in Europe and the United States. Our on-site partners have skills in engineering, computer software, construction management, and numerous indigenous crafts. The engineer who will manage the workshop has two years of experience making furniture for refugee camps and cafes from recycled wood and metal scavenged from the streets of Athens.
Our goal is to provide enough financial stability to support at least one year of operation. Your Faithify contribution in support of our $10,000 goal will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous private foundation! Twenty thousand dollars will be sufficient to rent a workshop and to support vocational classes for 12 months.
Once established, we will seek sustainable support from individual donors, governmental agencies and foundations. With skill, determination and some luck, the cooperative will generate supplemental revenue to support its workers and its vocational programs. Our local partners currently plan to offer training in welding, jewelry making, woodworking, embroidery, and computer software. The board of the cooperative will make the final decision as to what skills offer their clientele the greatest possibility of employment and design their programs to accommodate those needs. The board will then select skilled trainers who are best qualified to deliver its vocational training programs.
Shared Humanity plans to establish an on-going supportive relationship with individual UUs and UU congregations and invite donors to come to Greece to work in our cooperative community. We UUs are called upon to be supportive of people who have lost their livelihoods, their homes, their communities, and most tragically, their loved ones. Our actions, and in-actions, will have a lasting impact on ourselves and those we hope to serve. Now is the time to move towards rather than away from the refugee crisis. Join us in supporting people who have as their ultimate destination……. Dignity.
For more information about Shared Humanity USA watch our in-depth video, Delivering Hope and Dignity in Greece
“As Unitarian Universalists, we are called to live out our values of social justice in the world. Shared Humanity USA, founded by UU couple, Latifa and Colin Woodhouse, is an example of putting our faith into action. This program will give refugees the tools and skills that will affirm their inherent worth and dignity. They will work collaboratively with each other to create a sustainable way forward for displaced people. I hope you will support this Faithify campaign in the way you are able.” Aisha Hauser, Director of Lifelong Learning at East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, WA.
“Tragically, our world is experiencing the greatest refugee crisis since World War II. Martha and Waitstill Sharp, my grandparents and founders of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, risked their lives to save innocent people violently uprooted by war- and in doing so- left us a legacy that we Unitarian Universalists honor by our steadfast commitment to justice, equity and compassion. I am proud to be an enthusiastic supporter of Shared Humanity and invite you to join me in supporting this wonderfully innovative project that will be the first workers cooperative established in Greece by and for refugees.” Artemis Joukowsky III, PBS Producer and Co-director with Ken Burns of Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War
“We support the Worker’s Cooperative in Athens as a way to give refugees a chance for a purposeful life. This is a very innovative and well thought out approach to giving refugees the skills they will need to rebuild their lives. The facts that this operation is fully staffed by refugees and the raw materials used are recycled show that not only do we care for people was also care for our mother earth.” Susan Goekler, Chair, Commission on Social Witness and Mac Goekler, Chair UU Peace Ministry Network
Help Us Build Sanctuary
In April of 2017, the congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island voted overwhelmingly to become a Sanctuary Church. In the months since then, we have been hard at work creating a space, making community connections and coming up with a plan for how we will carry this out. We are currently the only church in RI we know of close to being ready to offer sanctuary.
Extra seating doubles as a sleeping area for family.
One of the final hurdles we face in being ready to take in a guest is to install a shower in our building. This is why we are launching this campaign. We need to raise money to install our shower, replace the current sink and plumbing in the room, add a countertop to the kitchen area, and install a lock on the door. These items will make our sanctuary space feel like a home away from home for the guest or family who seeks our help. Can you help us meet our fundraising goal of $7,500.00?
If for some reason we are not able to fulfill our goal of becoming a sanctuary church, we will donate any unused funds to another sanctuary project in our area.
This journey we are embarking on is filled with uncertainty, but as Unitarian Universalists, we feel called to stand with and support those in our community who are vulnerable to unjust deportation. We feel called to resist those who would break up families and communities based on discrimination, fear, and hate. We thank you for considering our call to help.