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Dani, the widow of a Dalit activist murdered 25 years ago

UUA president touched by visits with Dalits

UUA President Peter Morales finds ‘freedom tastes like salt.’
By Kenneth Sutton

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Unitarian Universalist Association President Peter Morales recently completed a two-week trip to India, during which he visited four humanitarian partner organizations of the UUA’s Holdeen India Program as well as seven Unitarian churches in the Khasi Hills of northern India. (See Jane Greer’s preview summary of the trip, "Morales visits Unitarians and humanitarian partners in India,” Feb. 21.)

Morales posted regularly to a UUA blog during the Feb. 14-28 trip. He wrote several times about meeting members of the Dalit (“untouchables”) caste. In describing a visit to salt workers in Gujarat, he wrote:

For me this would be life in hell. Nothing green in sight (and I mean nothing) for miles. Living in a small tent in a desert. No electricity. Hard work all day. And they love it.

They love it because here they are free. They set their own pace. They have no overseer. In the village they are Dalits, “untouchables.” They are dehumanized every day. I realize that I take so many freedoms for granted. These untouchables are happy to endure enormous hardship for a small taste of freedom.

Here, in the desert of Gujarat, freedom tastes like salt.

Dea Brayden, assistant to the president, was the photographer for the trip. Above is her portrait of Dani, the widow of a Dalit activist murdered 25 years ago, whom the group visited at her home in the village of Golana in Gujarat.

All of Morales’s posts are on the UUA’s “Faith without Borders” blog. A slideshow of the trip appears on a public web gallery of the UUA’s International Resources office.

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