It is the children who tug at my heart. Children at the border, crowded together on mats in a huge room. Children, bloodied, with stunned faces in Gaza. Children caught in the madness of situations they didn't create, just wanting to be with their mom and dad, just wanting to be safe. Sometimes if feels so overwhelming.
But there are things we can do, things we who are safe and secure indeed must do to try to reverse the madness. Surely the power of love can overcome the hate, but first we must overcome our feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy. So here are some suggestions:
On Palestine/Israel: AFSC has a new website full of resources on Gaza. Print some that speak to you and share them with friends. Take them to the office of your Congressman. Meet with your Congressman. Use them to write a letter to the editor calling on Congress to hold Israel to the same standard it holds other countries and to the same standard it demands of Palestinians or it will no longer get U.S. funds. Learn about the BDS movement and engage with your church/Yearly Meeting/pension fund etc.to divest from at least some of the companies that profit from war and occupation. Join a demonstration calling for an end to the violence and an end to the occupation. THERE WILL BE VIGILS IN PROVIDENCE FRIDAY AFTERNOONS AT 4PM AUGUST 1 AND 8. And yes, please donate to AFSC's work in Gaza. We have many years of experience there and many community partners. Your money will be used well - and it will make a difference. Thank you.
Refugee Children: I am so grateful and encouraged by the number of people who have indicated they want to help with the placement of immigrant children at the Joint Base on the Cape! Thank you. Friends on the Cape are working with other kind hearted people to collect clothing, hygiene kits(click here for a list of contents) and toys. Given the level of interest, it is my hunch is that folks on the Cape will be able to meet their material needs. For those of you not on the Cape who want to help, I suggest that you seek out churches that serve immigrant families and see what the local needs are. I can assure you that many immigrant families with children in your communities could also make good use of non-electronic toys, decent used clothing, new backpacks (school is not far off) and books. Both RI and MA have received a significant number of children in the past year, mostly being reunited with a parent. These families often are not eligible for any kind of city or federal assistance and quiety do their best to meet their children's needs. Your support is welcome. I will post more information as it is available.
Children in our communities: One of the highlights of my summer is working with a group of young people at Youth In Action in Providence on a video project. AFSC has an annual video competition called If I Had A Trillion Dollars, which invites youth to think about what could change if a trillion dollars was shifted from military spending to domestic spending and to communicate that in a 3 minute video. We have spent several weeks brainstorming ideas and this week will try to narrow it down to one or two to flesh out in creative ways. Stay tuned!