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Testimony: Human Rights Learning Summer 2012 Participants

Testimony: Human Rights Learning Summer 2012 Participants

Published: September 20, 2012

Human Rights Learning summer 2012 participants stand at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Sheila Hoyer / Sheila Hoyer

Below is a testimony from the First Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC, whose members particpated in Washington, D.C.'s Human Rights Learning program this summer. With the assistance of Program Director Jean-Louis Peta Ikambana and intern Monica Shah, youth meeting members studied the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also participated in phone banking with the Human Rights Campaign.

First Friends Meeting Summer Youth Trip: Human Rights

This year, our youth trip was focused on learning about Human Rights. Nine youth and two adults from First Friend Meeting here in Greensboro, traveled by train to work with the American Friends Service Committee and the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC. After the vote to amend the constitution with Amendment 1, we were sad. This summer it was our hope to learn more about how to be advocates and care for issues where human rights are being violated.

Did you know there is a Universal Declaration of Human Rights? None of us did but we learned a lot about it! There are 30 articles in the entire document that name important needs that all people should have a right to. For instance, Article 25 states:

Article 25: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

We also recognize that if we believe the things written in the Declaration of Human Rights then we have a lot of work to do in order to provide equal rights for all. As Quakers, the concept of Human Rights fits with our belief in ‘that of God in everyone’ and our testimony to equality.

One way we worked was to do phone banking with the Human Rights Campaign. At first, we were nervous about saying the right things and whether or not people would be nice to us. Fortunately, they trained us, gave us a script and assured us that we would be talking to people that had agreed to be contacted by the organization. We ended up loving this work! One of our other goals is to complete a short video about bullying. We all felt strongly that we can make a big difference in the world if we can help people to start committing to kindness.

We also got to go see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It was beautiful. He was an amazing person that inspired so many and it was exciting to see him being honored in this way. This quote challenges us:

"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in." (18 April 1959, Washington, D.C.)

We are deeply grateful to our friends at American Friends Service Committee, especially Jean-Louis Peta Ikambana and Monica Shah, who worked so hard to put together an excellent program that educated and challenged us to be advocates in the quest for human rights for all.

First Friends Meeting Youth Group: Molly Hunt 11, Spencer Watts 12, Parker Wilson 13, Caroline English 14, Jessica Jones 14, Mary Claire Hurley 16, Joe Wrenn 16, Alicia Shepherd 17, Ally Cogan 17. Leaders: Tommy Wrenn and Sheila Hoyer.