Day 2 of Peacebuilders Camp in Americus built on the foundation of Day 1. We started our morning with another visit with Mama Peace, a.k.a. Jeni Stepanek, and with a return to Mattie Stepanek’s poem “I Am.” Our right for the day was Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that we all have the right to the things we need for a decent standard of living. So Mama Peace helped us consider that “I Am” includes the idea that “I am a person with basic needs.”
From Article 25, we focused especially on the right to clothing. Campers showed or described a favorite article of clothing, and as we heard why a certain shirt, pair of shoes, pair of earrings, hat, or hair barrette held special meaning, we learned a bit more about each other’s lives.
A “human rights fashion show” demonstrated how clothing ties into many other rights in the UDHR. Our models showed off a hard hat and work gloves representing the right to work, a bathrobe and slippers to illustrate the right to religion, a man’s shirt that closes with magnets instead of buttons for people with limited fine motor control (generously donated by MagnaReady), and several other items of clothing.
Each “contestant” answered a question that encouraged them to think about the right their article of clothing represented. How would you answer these questions about the right to freedom of expression, the right to religion, and the UDHR’s prohibition of slavery?
Your friend gives you a t-shirt with a picture and phrase on it that your friend thinks is hilarious but you know that people with differing political views will find it offensive. What do you do?
You are shopping at a local store and you see another shopper wearing a hijab. An angry woman approaches her and starts to loudly criticize her, telling her that she should go back where she came from and that this is a Christian nation. What should you do?
A lot of clothing, shoes, and jewelry are made from materials that come from parts of the world where workers are paid very little or even held in slavery, sometimes even children are forced to work. Do you think that people who buy these items have a responsibility to think about who made them and whether those workers are treated fairly?
To celebrate the right to clothing, each camper tie-dyed their own Peacebuilders t-shirt. Lots of creativity and color went into this project, and we’ll be eager to see the final results on Friday! We also wanted to help extend the right to clothing to others. So each camper also dyed a shirt to be included in bags of clothing that Koinonia Farm provides to people who are being deported from nearby Stewart Detention Center. Meaningful conversations about immigration policy and the needs of asylum seekers sprung up as campers considered who would be wearing the shirts they were creating.
A second service project of the day aimed to help people who have the clothing they need but might struggle to keep those clothes laundered. We imagined what the consequences might be of not being able to wash one’s clothes often enough — social exclusion, unemployment, or loss of dignity, for example. Campers assembled kits of laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and quarters which we’ll leave at a local laundromat later in the week. Each kit also included a note asking the recipient to pay the gift forward in some way. We thought about the chain of kindnesses that may result from these kits, and collectively made up a story about how one act of generosity spread kindness throughout a community.
To round out the day, campers added to their “I Am, We Are” mural, immersed themselves in rowdy games of Uno, competed in corn hole tosses and bocce ball, and generally had a wonderful time together. And besides all that, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch provided by Gyro City in Americus. So much goodness to consume today!