Building welcome, bridging cultures

Our last full day of Peacebuilders Camp had us doing some traveling, outside of Sumter County, outside of our comfort zones.

Our morning discussion introduced campers to the right that all humans have “to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 15). Although the word “asylum” has complex legal definitions, at its core, it means safety. Those who are persecuted in their own countries have the right to seek and enjoy safety in other countries. It’s as simple as that.

However, we’re all aware that in today’s world, seeking asylum is anything but simple. In Europe, asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa brave the Mediterranean in rickety boats, knowing that the risks that lie before them are less terrifying than those they’ve left behind. Good people like those working with Doctors Without Borders are responding to this crisis, taking on significant risk of their own to bring these refugees to safety. But complicating matters are “identitarians” whose mission it is to get in the way of both the boats carrying refugees and the ships determined to rescue them. In the U.S. southwest, men, women, and children fleeing the violence of Mexico and Central America face a different kind of risk, just as deadly. Good people there respond, too, leaving jugs of water in the desert to sustain the migrants. And, just as in the Mediterranean half a world away, their efforts are complicated by those who seek to undo them by slashing the jugs and letting the life-giving water leak away into the hot sand.

Our campers are far from both the Mediterranean and the Arizona desert. And yet they are within an hour’s drive of several hundred asylum seekers, those who have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are incarcerated at Stewart Detention Center in the small town of Lumpkin, GA. Many of our campers volunteered to go there to have a conversation with men who have requested visitors. They found that while supporting these asylum seekers does not carry physical risk as it does elsewhere, complications certainly exist even here.

Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA

After our discussion on Friday morning, we set out for Lumpkin. Covering the 35 miles on Highway 280 was the easy part. But our campers that morning learned that the 50 or so yards or from the parking lot to the razor-wired gate and then to the front door of detention center seemed a much longer journey. After lots of paperwork and a wait of about half an hour, the eight campers and four staff were escorted to the visitation area where they got to chat with men from El Salvador, Guinea, and Cameroon. The conversations took place through plexiglass windows and over staticky telephones, and yet the men we visited could feel the warmth of our friendship and hear the kindness in our voices. The gulf that existed between our cultures soon narrowed as we found things in common to talk about. Camper Alice and counselor Elysee were able to conduct their visit in French, a special gift to the man who they visited, who speaks no English and receives few visitors.  He shared with them the story of his migration, which took him from Africa to Brazil and up by land through northern South America, Central America, and Mexico to the U.S. border. Another man said he didn’t want to talk about his own story, he wanted to hear about life outside the prison walls. And another chatted about sports and other ordinary things, reminding our campers about the humanity that we all share. They all told us that our visits made a world of difference to them, that they knew that they had not been forgotten. For this hour, they were afforded the dignity that each human being deserves. And in this hour, eight young people journeyed well outside the borders of their comfort zone and found another world opened up to them.

Meanwhile, the rest of our group was performing another kind of service. A mile from the detention center, at El Refugio, ten campers were helping to make this modest little house an even more welcoming place. Every weekend, El Refugio opens its doors to people who come to Lumpkin to visit their loved ones who are incarcerated at the detention center. Under the guidance of Juan Ramirez of Studio d+c in Atlanta and his son, our campers eagerly built two picnic tables and a play structure for El Refugio’s guests. Working together to measure, level, drill, and paint, they learned that even carpentry skills can be put to use for peacemaking. Because of their work, El Refugio’s guests now have more opportunity to relax and recover after long hours in the car or a heart-wrenching visit at the detention center.

After lunch at El Refugio, six of the builders left their work and went to the detention center for visits of their own. A complication arose when an ambiguous policy prevented the staff with the campers from visiting, so we all drove back to El Refugio and other adults returned with the campers. However, after a wait of another hour and a half, they still had not be permitted to visit, and had to leave without getting to meet the men they had come to see. It was a disappointment that the bureaucracy of the detention center kept these eager visitors from bringing a message of friendship and hope to men seeking asylum in our country.

Ashana and Riley begin the assembly of the play structure

Wondy painting the new picnic table

Crespo and Ngo Dei try out a new table!

An unexpected encounter at El Refugio that afternoon added one more learning experience to our day there. Dedicated El Refugio volunteer Susan Krysak stopped by the house with a young man who had recently been released from Stewart Detention Center. He willingly shared his story of coming to the U.S. as a child, the hurdles he faced as an undocumented youth, and the conditions he faced at Stewart. José is one of the fortunate ones who has been able to be released on bond, and while he is thankful for the help he has been given, he also regrets that so many others remain incarcerated there.

Returning to Koinonia after this full day of service and learning, Peacebuilders Campers had a much better appreciation of the right to asylum, and of their own power to make a difference, whether with a drill and a paintbrush, or with a listening ear and a kind word.

 

 

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp |

What is our duty to the community?

The last day of camp is unusual because the theme is not a human right, but rather a duty. Article 29 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.” Why wrap up camp with discussion of our duties to the community? Our campers see the connection between dignity and duty. One of the ways our society neglects to treat people with dignity is when we expect nothing of them. This morning, campers identified some groups that are often seen as not human enough to have responsibilities to the community: people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, and kids.

On Friday, our campers demonstrated that it’s through our duties to the community that we experience dignity – and provide dignity to others. Campers served some of the most marginalized in our community in two important ways. First, campers stepped out of their comfort zones to visit immigrant detainees at Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Georgia. By having a conversation with a stranger, and by offering respect, care, and love, they brightened the day of men in terrible situations. Second, campers used their hands (and sweat) to build two picnic tables and a play structure at El Refugio, a hospitality house for relatives of detainees at Stewart. Because of Peacebuilders youth, El Refugio will be a more welcoming community space for people from across the southeast who come to visit a loved one. We are so proud of the good work of our campers!

Before they departed, campers had the opportunity to set a goal to act for peace and justice in their home community, or to support a fellow camper’s or counselor’s goal. Here are just a few of the goals from Session Three:

  • Camper Crespo: I will go to the office of my apartment complex and ask if they can clean up the soccer field so that kids can play on it. You can support me by (1) going with me, (2) checking in with me to see how I’m doing with my goal, or (3) looking for problems in your own neighborhood and thinking of possible solutions.
  • Counselor Elysee: I will help lead discussions in my college about poverty in Africa and how the political instability impacts children’s education. You can support me by (1) sending me emails of encouragement, (2) donating clothes that will be sent to Africa, or (3) donating children’s books.
  • Facilitator Amilcar: I will continue to advocate for more just policies that impact undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers who are in immigration custody. You can support me by (1) Inviting me or another person from El Refugio to speak to your group about immigrant detention, (2) volunteering for a political candidate who supports positive steps to reform U.S. immigration policy, or (3) watching the movie A Better Life with friends or family and discussing it together.

If you’d like to join campers in supporting one of these goals (or other goals that we’ll be posting soon), email us and we’ll help you plug in!

Here are some other ways you can act for justice:

  • Stand up for the Right to Asylum (Article 14):
  • View our full list of actions you can take in solidarity with our 2017 campers and do something to make human rights more accessible to all!
  • Have you been inspired by our campers to take social action, yourself? Please tell us (or respond to this email) so we can share with our campers that this movement extends beyond just them!
Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp, Social Actions |

Actions you can take to create peace

All summer, we’ve been highlighting the human rights our campers have been exploring at camp and offering you ways you can act in solidarity to create more peace and justice. Here’s that list of actions all in one place:

The Right to a Nationality (Article 15)

  • Instead of just hot dogs and hamburgers for a holiday picnic, consider holding an international dinner with your family and friends.
  • Learn about the work Ultimate Peace does and play a game of Ultimate … or just throw a frisbee.
  • Learn about Freedom University in Georgia. Advocate for the right of all people to attend public universities. One way you can volunteer for Freedom U is by driving students to classes. Sign up to volunteer here.
  • Adopt a refugee family through a resettlement organization like New American Pathways. Welcome a new immigrant family and help them learn how to grocery shop, get around, cook, and find a job here in the United States.
  • Volunteer to tutor or teach citizenship classes with an organization like the International Rescue Committee.

The Right to Rest and Leisure (Article 24)

  • Watch “We’re the Superhumans” and be inspired!
  • Have a movie night at your own home and watch McFarland USA along with our campers.
  • Offer to babysit for a parent you know – allow them an afternoon of leisure.
  • Learn about the Fugees Family (which provides education and athletic opportunities to refugees in the Atlanta area) and donate money or equipment to help refugee youth play soccer.
  • Provide transportation for kids to Soccer in the Streets or a program like it in your town.
  • One of the athletes who will be working and playing with our campers is very active in the Soles 4 Souls program. Learn more about how you can help people have appropriate footwear for leisure and everyday life.
  • Read about “Play Deserts” and advocate for more parks and playgrounds in all communities.

The Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (Article 19)

  • Learn the story of Romaine Patterson, one of our peacemakers of the day. We hope you will be as inspired as our campers by Romaine’s story.
  • Share Vox ATL teen newspaper with young people in your life.
  • Read Affinity Magazine, a social justice publication for which our CIT Madison writes.
  • Watch Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
  • Invite an arts group from another culture to perform in your town, like MECA‘s dance troup did in CIT Medinah’s hometown.
  • Download the TuneIn Radio app and listen to Great Dreams Radio (host Sulaimon is a “Real Communities” partner of Peacebuilders Camp and happens to be blind) or other online radio stations that promote the freedom of expression.
  • Reach out to someone that has different opinions from you and offer to listen. Here’s an experience I had recently listening to neighbors on the other side of the political spectrum.
  • Watch MSNBC and FoxNews back-to-back with your family and compare the news coverage.
  • If you want ideas on how to express yourself politically in the Trump era, join Jen Hoffman’s Action Checklist for Americans of Conscience.

The Right to Enjoy the Arts (Article 27)

The Right to Healthcare (Article 25)

The Right to a Fair Trial (Article 28)

The Right to Food (Article 25)

The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience, and Religion (Article 18)

  • Learn more about School of the Americas Watch, support their work, and partipate in an action.
  • Join a social movement that specifically tries to bring together people of many different faiths, like the Interfaith Children’s Movement.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper – or a letter to your representative – about an issue of conscience.
  • If your conscience leads you to, consider staying seated for the national anthem and see what reactions you get.
  • Support the right to freedom of religion for Muslims in the U.S. through an organization like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
  • Make plans to go to a religious service with a friend who is a different faith.

The Right to Asylum (Article 15)

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp, Social Actions |

The freedom of conscience is central to peacebuilding

One of the most meaningful ideas our campers learn about at camp is the right to freedom of conscience. At the age of 13 and 14, they are very focused on developing their sense of conscience and defining what they believe. So this is a perfect age to introduce our campers to adults who have lived a life of conscience.

Today our campers visited with Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the founder of the human rights movement, School of the Americas Watch. He told stories of his stand against the military tactics taught at the School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC) at Fort Benning and his defrocking by the Catholic Church for taking a stand for the ordination of women. And tonight campers will interview members of the Koinonia community to learn about ways their conscience and religion have led them to live a counter-cultural life.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up for your conscience. As our campers explore that type of bravery, they also summon their courage for a whitewater rafting adventure on the Chattahoochee River in downtown Columbus, Georgia! (Combining fun, adventure, learning, and activism is what Peacebuilders Camp is all about.)

What has your conscience asked of you? What courage has been required?

Here are some ways you can stand for freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and help others access their right:

  • Learn more about School of the Americas Watch, support their work, and partipate in an action.
  • Join a social movement that specifically tries to bring together people of many different faiths, like the Interfaith Children’s Movement.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper – or a letter to your representative – about an issue of conscience.
  • If your conscience leads you to, consider staying seated for the national anthem and see what reactions you get.
  • Support the right to freedom of religion for Muslims in the U.S. through an organization like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
  • Make plans to go to a religious service with a friend who is a different faith.
Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp, Social Actions |

Food desert to food oasis

Do you know what a food desert is? Our campers do! Not only that, they also now know someone who has turned a food desert into a food oasis!

Jeff and Alex discuss the economics of groceries

We were honored today to have Jeff Delp of Carver Market in South Atlanta join us for the afternoon. He described his neighborhood, just a mile south of Turner Field in Atlanta, as a place where a person has to spend three hours on public transportation to get to a major grocery store. He pointed out that in that amount of time, he can drive his own car to Chattanooga to go grocery shopping. Clearly, a problem exists for his neighbors, many of whom don’t own a car, and many of whom are on limited incomes. So a few years ago, Jeff and his colleagues at Focused Community Strategies set out to look for solutions.

Before Jeff shared what those solutions have been for South Atlanta, the campers played a game to simulate that problems that exist in food deserts like this South Atlanta neighborhood. Each camper was given a role to play. Here are some of them:

 

  • A single parent on SNAP benefits.
  • A single adult working a full-time, minimum-wage job.
  • A single adult with intermittent work. Not knowing when he might get another job or how much it will pay makes budgeting for food impossible.
  • An elderly adult with limited mobility and a spouse who cannot be left alone for long periods of time.
  • A homeless teen with a very limited amount of cash but a willingness to work in exchange for food. No access to refrigeration or a way to cook food.

The campers’ task was to purchase enough food to keep their “families” from going hungry. They were told that the winner of the game would be the person who purchased the most nutritious food. They had five shopping options:

  • A large grocery store a good distance away where food was relatively affordable
  • A small grocery store a long walk away with somewhat higher prices
  • A nearby convenience store with high prices and limited options
  • An ice cream and snack truck that came to the neighborhood
  • A farmers’ market with healthy food, but high prices and limited hours

Most campers had 45 minutes to do their shopping. Some had to wait 10 minutes to start because their SNAP benefits hadn’t kicked in yet, and some had to finish early because of work or childcare duties. They had to strategize about where they could get the most nutritious food, given the amount of money they had to spend, how much time was required for travel, and how many units of food they could carry. A bus ran between the “neighborhood” and the large grocery, but the $5 fare for a round trip took a cut out of limited budgets. Walking was an option for some, but that mean being able to carry less food home than if they took the bus. The convenience store was close, but the food less nutritious. The farmers’ market was an attractive option to those who relied on SNAP benefits, because just like many real farmers’ markets, ours doubled those dollars.  Early on, shoppers made wise and calculated choices about price and nutrition. As time began to run out, the ice cream truck got more and more business.

Besides cash and/or SNAP credit, each camper was also given tokens at the beginning of the game representing dignity. If they shopped at the convenience store where they were treated rudely, they lost dignity tokens. With each transaction at the farmers’ market where they were welcomed and honored, they gained a token. SNAP customers lost dignity at the large grocery whereas other customers there gained dignity. A police officer roamed the area, suspicious of anyone walking between stores, and freely demanded dignity tokens.

There was plenty to discuss when everyone gathered back with their “purchases.” Many of the shoppers had not succeeded in procuring enough food for their families; the barriers were just too great. A few, though, through strategic planning and a lot of hustle not only obtained enough food, but quality food as well. Jeff was skillful in drawing parallels between the simulation and the realities of living in his neighborhood, and helped us think in new ways about a lot of other issues, too. We talked about how neighbors in our game or in real life could help each other by sharing the resources available to them, and about the cooperation that is needed to bring new resources to underserved areas. That cooperation and a lot of hard work has created an oasis in South Atlanta’s food desert. One point Jeff emphasized: it takes a long time to make real change. It takes a long time to understand the root of problems that keep people in poverty, and it takes sustained determination and creativity to find solutions to those problems. We are lucky that we got to learn today from someone with that kind of determination and creativity!

In another activity today, Kiasia and Ashana help deliver homemade lunches to families who need a little extra food support

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp |

The right to food

Our third and final group of 2017 campers arrived at Koinonia Farm yesterday. Our counselors are tired, yet inspired to see the passion and commitment of our campers.

Today, we explore the right to food, which is part of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “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.” We discussed this right in the morning, including questions such as:

Agree or Disagree: If you give money to someone who says they are hungry, they’ll probably just spend it on alcohol or drugs.
Agree or Disagree: It’s more important to help people who are hungry get jobs than it is to give them food through soup kitchens or food pantries.

How would you respond?

Our campers will do a service project: making meals of soup, sandwiches, cookies, and fruit for neighbors in Americus who are living without the food they need. Then after we feed ourselves, a facilitator from Carver Market in Atlanta will talk about food deserts and food oases with our campers. The campers will play a “food desert” game campers to explore the impediments to food access here in the U.S. (I just delivered two baby strollers to camp – I’ll let you imagine how these will be used in the game!)

Carver Market is an inspiration to us as a cooperative approach to solving the problem of food deserts. Read their mission and you’ll see what I mean: “Our mission is not to diagnose a food desert, but to create a Food Oasis. We provide access to food, jobs, and relationships for the patrons of South Atlanta and surrounding neighborhoods. We are not a large grocery chain. We are a small intimate food market with the intention and goal of connecting our neighbors back to food and, thus, back to community.”

After all of that, the day will end with a “Hunger Dinner” that demonstrates how much of the world’s population does not have access to food resources many Americans take for granted.

Inspired? We invite you to take action to provide more people access to their human rights:

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp, Social Actions |

Right to a fair trial, part 2

Our second week campers had a great experience on Friday learning about the right to a fair trial. In the morning, we were joined by Brian Hoffman from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s office in near-by Lumpkin, Georgia. Brian and other attorneys in the SPLC’s SIFI program work there to represent asylum-seekers who are detained at Stewart Detention Center, helping them to get a fair hearing in spite of many obstacles that current immigration policies put in their way. Brian was able to step in at the last minute to help us out when the public defender who was scheduled to meet with us unexpectedly had to be in court that day. We are so grateful for Brian’s generosity!

Though immigration law differs in many ways from criminal law, Brian skillfully led our campers through a discussion of all the people involved in a criminal court hearing, and each person’s role is in insuring that the

Officer Elysee catches Julia and Edgar red-handed

hearing is fair. He also coached the campers in what to do if they are ever arrested. A skit by counselors Elysee, Julia, and Edgar drove home the point that a young person who is being placed under arrest needs to respectfully insist that he or she cannot make any statements without parents or an attorney present. Brian also advised them to ask an important question of the police officer: “Am I free to leave?” If the answer is yes, then leaving is the right thing to do. If the answer is no, then the officer is obligated to read the Miranda rights and the person in custody should not answer any questions until legal counsel is obtained.

Defense attorney Mia makes her case

After lunch, we headed to downtown Americus where a courtroom at the Sumter County Courthouse was reserved for us. Brian oriented us to the courtroom, and then we began assigning roles for our mock trial. Soon we realized that we had an audience. Four officers from the sheriff’s office told us that they had been watching us on the security cameras and thought it looked like we were having a good time, so they came to join in. They observed the first part of the trial (in which camper Reuben was having to defend himself against accusations of receiving a stolen car, owned by camper Patrick) and when Judge Hannah called for a recess, the officers volunteered to show us all the jury room. Then they whisked Judge Hannah down to the real judge’s office and outfitted her with an actual robe. When the recess was over, one of the officers enthusiastically announced Judge Hannah’s entrance back into the courtroom, and now properly attired, she took the bench.

When the jury (led by foreperson Anne) retired to the jury room to decide Reuben’s fate, the officers

Defendant Reuben testifies

engaged the campers in conversation, answering questions about some of the real trials they had witnessed. One of the officers decided to invite Judge Jimmy Brown of the Southwestern Judicial Circuit of Georgia down to the courtroom to meet the campers. Judge Brown graciously  answered questions about his work, and when the jury reentered the courtroom, he coached Judge Hannah on how to proceed. The involvement of the officers and Judge Brown was an unexpected bonus to our experience at the courthouse, and we are indebted to them for their friendly and personable interactions with the campers.

You will be glad to know that the jury acquitted defendant Reuben in spite of a spectacular performance by Assistant District Attorney Cameron. In the end, though, the real winners were all of our campers who learned a lot from all of the kind people who supported this day’s program! Many, many thanks to Brian, Judge Brown, and the great officers of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department!

Bailiff Charlotte swears in Officer Simon

Hannah trying on her judge’s robe

Judge Brown chatting with campers

Defense attorney Zion interogating withness Patrick

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp |

Your right to a fair trial is essential because…

Our campers just returned from Ellenton, Georgia, where we had a very FULL two days. We restocked a food pantry for migrant farm workers, took a tour of local farms and saw firsthand the inequality between the farm owner’s mansion and the laborers’ old trailers, and we exercised our right to leisure by paddling, swimming, and camping at Reed Bingham State Park. We hope you’ll watch the two videosincluded in this email!

Today we’re back at Koinonia Farm and exploring the right to a fair trial. One of the most important articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is Article 28: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” Only with a fair and just legal system do we have full access to our human rights!

campingToday our campers visited the Sumter County Courthouse and performed a mock trial as a way to explore the right to a fair trial. They discussed questions such as:

“Why is the right to a fair trial important?”
“How does it relate to dignity?”
“What makes a trial fair?”
“Who might have a difficult time getting a fair trial?”
Campers each had the opportunity to respond to the following statements. What would your answers be?
Agree or Disagree: “A person on trial in the United States has less of a chance of being treated fairly if they are a person of color.”
Agree or Disagree: “There is not much an ordinary person can do to make sure our justice system treats everyone fairly.”
Agree or Disagree: “I can trust the police in my community.”
Here are some ways you can help ensure that our social system ensures our human rights:
Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp, Social Actions |

Healthcare – a right for all!

If only our Senators, Representatives, and President could attend Peacebuilders Camp this summer! Though the debate in Congress centers around whether healthcare is a right or a commodity, we believe strongly that all humans deserve the right to medical care. And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is clear that healthcare is a right for all. 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. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.”

When Peacebuilders Camp studies this right, we don’t simply talk about bills in Congress or proposals in the media. We seek to figure out who gets left out of the right to healthcare in our country and in the world. And we strive to provide more access to healthcare for everyone. We hope you’ll join us in this work!

On Wednesday, our campers will be at the Ellenton Health Clinic near Moultrie, Georgia, learning about the American healthcare system and how difficult it is for migrant farm workers to access adequate care. We will play a game about healthcare advantages and disparities and we will restock a food pantry at the clinic (originally created by Peacebuilders campers in 2011) with a generous donation from Diaz Foods.

Here are some ways you can learn along with our campers and support the right to healthcare for all:

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp, Social Actions |

Is health care a human right?

Our campers are off on their overnight trip to Ellenton, Georgia, where they will be stocking a food pantry at a clinic that serves migrant farmworkers and their families, touring the fields where these workers harvest the produce that ends up on our tables, and exercising their right to leisure at the paddle-in campground at Reed Bingham State Park. Stay tuned for stories and photos!

This morning before their departure, we spent some time thinking about health care as a human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights groups health care with other necessities of life in Article 25, stating, “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 . . . ” Campers agreed with the UDHR that health care is indeed a human right, and with that as a starting point, we considered some other questions about health care.

As we’ve done with other discussion questions, campers lined themselves up on a spectrum between the extremes of “disagree” and “agree.” Here are the statements they responded to. Where would you fall on the spectrum for each of these statements?

  • Governments have a responsibility to provide health care for their citizens.
  • Tax money should not be spent to take care of people who are sick because they have made bad choices about their health.
  • People in the United States can almost always get the health care they need.

A lively discussion ensued around each statement as campers explained their positions on the spectrum. One camper pointed out that it was the governments of the world that declared in the UDHR that health care is a right, so governments should be prepared to provide it. Although no camper completely disagreed that health care is a government responsibility, many placed themselves in the middle of the spectrum and asserted that individuals bear responsibility as well. A couple campers reminded us that what appear to be irresponsible choices about one’s health may be due to underlying issues beyond a person’s control. One camper observed that instead of offering support for issues like addiction, our society is more apt to incarcerate a person in need of mental health care. Clearly, campers have thought about these questions and formed opinions worth sharing.

Next, we moved into a discussion of the current health care debate in Congress. Campers with prior knowledge of the debates going on on Capitol Hill offered their input. Marilyn and Jonah shared examples of their own families’ decisions regarding health insurance, and how the Affordable Care Act has impacted them. Campers were urged to pay attention to the news and to engage in the national conversation around healthcare, not only because our nation is at an important juncture with regard to healthcare, but also because it won’t be long before they’ll be making health care decisions on their own, and they will be directly impacted by whatever legislation is hammered out by this Congress.

The experiences today at a rural south Georgia clinic, coupled with rich discussion about current issues, will make for a day full of impact for our campers. With their mind, hands, and hearts engaged, they are sure to come away with even more insights and convictions about how we as a society can support those whose health care resources are the most vulnerable.

Categories: 2017 Peacebuilders Camp |