Contents: UU World November/December 2002
November/December 2002

Unitarian Universalists Get Involved

by Jane Greer

Afghan relief and reconstruction have become a priority for many Unitarian Universalists.

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) has raised $124,000 for organizations that help Afghan women and children. Many are emerging, community-based groups, which traditionally do not receive major agency funding. In contrast to the UUSC's campaign for the victims in New York, which netted $1.13 million, much of the money for Afghanistan has come in unsolicited. Says UUSC spokesperson Dick Campbell, "Immediately after the bombing started in Afghanistan, UUs began to call us wanting to know what they could do." A description of the organizations the UUSC is supporting can be found at

Rosemary Matson, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel, California, organized congregants, local residents, and members of UU Women and Religion groups across the country in a campaign netting $128,000 for a Kabul orphanage. Some groups raised money by showing the movie Kandahar. "People responded generously to an opportunity to make a difference, no matter how small," said Matson.

Colin and Latifa Woodhouse, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset, New York, give talks at churches, synagogues, and community organizations to raise awareness about conditions in Afghanistan. Latifa, an Afghan, met Colin while he was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan. She says she was compelled to speak out immediately after the September attacks. "For me, the attack on the World Trade Center was like an attack on my whole being."

Mary Clarke, of the First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts, organized a community meeting at her church in response to an appeal to help rebuild an Afghan village destroyed by U.S. bombing. The meeting and subsequent efforts raised a total of $24,000 with First Parish donating $2,500. Clarke has since assembled a group to provide financial and advisory assistance to former National Public Radio reporter Sarah Chayes, who is working with Afghans for a Civil Society on reconstruction projects in southern Afghanistan. For more information on Afghans for a Civil Society, visit

The Unitarian Universalist-United Nations Office (UU-UNO) was involved in Afghanistan for several years prior to 9/11, raising over $30,000 for a land mine removal campaign. The organization continues to raise money for land mine clearance through the UN's Adopt-a-Minefield campaign.

 Contents: UU World November/December 2002
UU World XVI:6 (November/December 2002): 29

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