Tag Archives: UNRWA

On my heart and mind: children

Child soldiersA while back, I posted a sermon about children. Grieving the many places where children endure unimaginable violation, it affirms our call to care for children:

In this place, I am reminded that God is at work in all places. And that sustains and challenges me to look for how God is at work and, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace, to join in that work.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Faith in God in Christ have put them there.

And in this place, God invites us all to join in caring for the children. The children of this congregation. The children of this community. All the children, all God’s children of the world. May we hear and respond.

Today, my friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz posted a reflection on children “Children Aren’t Disposable“. She reaches a similar conclusion:

I think children matter. I think everyone’s child matters. I do not believe that parents or communities or even children need to be virtuous or free of fault in order to think their children and perhaps even their parents deserve protection and generosity. You can make all the bad decisions you want, but I still believe you and your children deserve life. I extrapolated this from the lesson my parents drummed into me: You do not have to earn grace. It has already been given.

Children matter. Their families matter. Grace has already been given. Let’s act like it.

And she does a better job of lifting up ways to act:

Support the Children’s Defense Fund. They do great work at a policy level.

Read Toxic Charity. Consider changing your mission to be less charity and offers more agency to people. Bulk discounts (for your Sunday school or book group) are available. http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com/Products/9780062076212/toxic-charity–paperback-edition.aspx

Write letters to migrant children. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/faithshare/people-are-writing-letters-to-the-migrant-children-and-they-are-beautiful/

Advocate for immigration reform that will allow people dignity and a path to regularization. Congress has recessed for August, so there isn’t legislation to advocate for. But you can still leave a message with your U.S. and state congresspeople urging them to support meaningful immigration reform and humane immigration processes, particularly for children and their parents who may be eligible for asylum, rather than increased criminalization and security measures. TheThoughtfulChristian.com has many books and downloadable studies to help you and your church talk about immigration and take action.

Oppose zero-tolerance policies in schools, stop and frisk public policing, and other ways that disproportionately criminalize black and brown youth.

You may give to UNICEF and UNRWA, who work with children in Gaza and the occupied territories. You can also ask your congresspeople to reconsider our typical military aid package to the nation of Israel. You could work with local peace organizations to advocate for an end to the blockade and the occupation.

Children matter. Join in caring for them.

See you along the Trail.

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Walk for the children of Gaza

UNRWAOn Saturday, May 17, UNRWA USA will sponsor the 3rd Annual Gaza Solidarity 5k Walk/Run to benefit the children of Gaza in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.

The proceeds from this event will benefit UNRWA’s psycho-social support program for children in Gaza suffering from psychological trauma and PTSD due to the devastating November 2012 violence and the prolonged blockade. Since November, reported cases of PTSD have risen by more than 100%. 42% of those cases are children under the age of nine.

There are several ways to participate.

  • If you are in Washington, DC, you can walk or run.
  • You can contribute to the cause.
  • Join the conversation on social media by using #Gaza5K in your posts and tweets!
  • If you are in New York, you can join me in walking 5k in Central Park. I will start from Columbus Circle at 10:00 AM. Let me know or meet me there.
  • You can walk wherever you are.
  • You can pray.

Together we can make a difference for the children of Gaza.

American Friends of UNRWA is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports the humanitarian and human development work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees through fundraising, advocacy, and outreach. UNRWA USA aims to educate the general American public about the situation of Palestinian refugees and generate support for UNRWA’s work in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Exercise, Human Rights, New York, United Nations

The next step: Palestine refugees in Syria

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, has issued a story about the dire situation of Palestine refugees in Syria. The UNRWA employee in Syria I met last Thursday and her colleagues are among the sources of the story.

The story begins:

Palestine refugees in Syria are being killed, injured and displaced in greater numbers than ever before, as the armed conflict continues to overwhelm refugee camps across the country.  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) now estimates that approximately 235,000 Palestine refugees have been displaced inside Syria and is particularly concerned about news that was confirmed today on the displacement of some 6,000 Palestinians from Ein El Tal on 26 April, a Palestine refugee camp some 12 kilometres from Aleppo in northern Syria.

The story concludes:

UNRWA urgently appeals to all sides to halt the human suffering caused by the conflict in Syria, and to resolve their differences through dialogue and political negotiations.

I have prayed for my friend and for the Palestine refugees in Syria. I continue to do so. I have shared their story. I continue to do so. Now it is time to give. UNRWA has issued a special appeal for Palestine refugees in Syria. I have made a contribution.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Cleveland Heights, United Nations

The responsibility of knowing

“Thank you for listening to me,” she said. Her eyes held mine as firmly as her hand clasped mine. “Thank you for listening.”

Listen I had as she spoke to me and to others in the UN community gathered for a reception for her and her colleagues from UNRWA in Syria. She spoke.

She spoke of life as a Palestine refugee. Her parents driven from their home as children and arriving in Syria to live supported by UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. There, in a camp, she was born.

She spoke of insecurity and not belonging.

She spoke of working for UNRWA – and caring for over 500,000 Palestine refugees find themselves in Syria.

She spoke of the conflict in Syria – a conflict that did not involve the Palestinian refugees until the last quarter of 2012. Then the conflict began to penetrate their communities and the Palestine refugees came under huge pressure that has increased.

She spoke of Palestine refugees driven from where they live – with nowhere else to go. Lebanon can be a place of refuge, but the cost of living makes life difficult for people who live so close to the edge.

She spoke of young Palestine refugees forced to choose, taken, swept into the maelström of war.

She spoke of being displaced. Three times. Since December. Her husband has lost his job and gone to Lebanon with their two older sons – for their safety, while she remained behind in Syria with their younger sons and her work.

She spoke of colleagues who refuse to obey emergency messages and come into work any way because they recognize the needs of the Palestine refugees and want to do what they can to help. Sometimes they, sometimes she, spends the night at work.

She spoke of courage and grace.

She spoke of trying to raise enough funds to provide the Palestine refugees $1 a day for six months.

She spoke of what should be – Palestinians living in Palestine – and until then, what needs to be – the international community fulfilling its obligations to protect the Palestine refugees.

She spoke. I listened.

As I said good-by, she thanked me for listening.

I recognize the power of listening and the ministry of presence. I seek to practice it. I encourage others to do so.

My first response was to say, “You are welcome. You are very welcome.”

I meant it. But it did not seem enough. I went on, “Thank you. You honor me by sharing your stories with me. I am so grateful.”

I listened. But I will do more. My new friend graced me with her story and her pain. Now I know and I bear the responsibility of knowing. I carry her and the Palestine refugees with me. I will remember. I will share what I heard and understood. I will pray. And I will find ways to act.

If you have read this far – you too have listened. You know. You bear the responsibility of knowing. What will you do?

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations