Three teenagers from Main Line Unitarian Church (MLUC) now have a much clearer picture of the social injustice that exists outside of the United States. Justin MacDonald, Tyler McDowell, and Mercedes Reyes spent two weeks in Nicaragua last summer on a trip with Witness for Peace, a politically independent grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith. They recently gave a presentation to the MLUC congregation on what they learned and how the experience affected them.
During the trip, the travelers witnessed the effects of U.S. Trade Policy toward Central America, explored the benefits of Fair Trade, and immersed themselves in the culture and history of Nicaragua. Part of their visit included a home stay with a Nicaraguan family.
Mercedes Reyes admitted that the experience was very emotional, but has definitely impacted her buying habits here at home. “The trip to Nicaragua was like nothing I had ever experienced,” said Reyes. “It is in all honesty a beautiful country with beautiful people, but the people there go through many struggles that they do not deserve. I don’t think I could ever describe the emotional impact the trip had on me, but I did start trying to buy everything either fair trade or made in the U.S. in hopes that I can set an example for other people to do the same.”
Each student received a scholarship for the trip from the Craig Roberts Memorial Fund, set up by members and friends of MLUC to honor the life and work of Dr. Craig Roberts, a longtime church member. The late Dr. Roberts was an ardent advocate of social justice and eager for MLUC youth to be exposed to the lack of justice in many Latin American countries. He dedicated much of his time and energy working in post-civil war El Salvador.
Rev. Morgan McLean, Associate Minister of Main Line Unitarian Church, applauded Mercedes, Justin, and Tyler for sharing their experience with the congregation. She said, “I’m proud of the youth in our congregation for showing an interest in local and global social justice. Trips like the one to Nicaragua help shape Unitarian Universalist identity and allow a new generation to live the values of our denomination.”
Other recent volunteer trips have tapped into expanding Unitarian Universalist resources like the UU College of Social Justice, which helped congregants organize a mixed-group service trip to Haiti in January.
Photo (from left): Justin MacDonald, Tyler McDowell, and Mercedes Reyes spent two weeks in Nicaragua last summer as part of a Witness for Peace delegation. Each youth was supported with a scholarship from members and friends of Main Line Unitarian Church.