Tales From Abroad: JAM Summer 2015

 

IMG_8752 (2)Justice Along the Meridian has been an incredible, eye-opening experience that has without a doubt changed everyone who was able to go on the trip. I know for myself that my conceptualization of religion, faith, and what it means to participate in the world has vastly shifted. Above all, this new understanding of the world and the phenomenal people in it is colored by a more loving, true depiction of God. I will illustrate this through a brief description of three places we visited in England specifically.

While traveling, justice and the good fight against injustices has been expressed in just about every person or group I met. The trip to the area in Oxford called Barton was an awesome experience. I felt like I was being introduced to a British JUST of sorts. The people who integrated themselves in the community did it in a way that is relational and permanent, instead of a form of charity that focuses more on placing a Band-Aid on a problem rather than working from the inside out in reshaping what it means to live with one another and participate in life alongside each other. One of the group leaders, Robin Peake, spoke with knowledge that comes from experience in living one’s life out communally. He discussed his beliefs and the utility and beauty in joining together in a church setting where people can discuss what they believe and participate in church while feeling accepted for who they are, where they are.

16 jamG interview with VOH (2)Our group was also fortunate enough to tour the Oxfam headquarters and learn more about what they do from the inside. Oxfam is a community-based organization that is internationally exhibited throughout seventeen organizations and worked in over ninety countries in order to find and create solutions to poverty worldwide. Their extremely lofty yet honorable goal is to rid the world of poverty altogether, and they plan to do this through several projects that they implement with their organization. One of the greatest aspects of this organization is that they are focused on numerous needs of people throughout the world. Oxfam is set up in a way that they are able to pick up issues of hunger, natural disaster relief, women’s rights, and poverty, to name a few. They have created an incredible, grassroots system that is capable of inspiring both hands-on and political solutions to the problems that they see throughout the world.

15 jamS sagrada de familia (2)Oasis Academy Southbank is a much newer secondary school in the heart of London focused on a holistic approach to education. This means that they “recognize we are each whole persons with a broad range of aspirations and interconnected needs” and choose to teach their students based on the realization of each individual’s needs. They do this first by identifying themselves as a Christian-based organization who is all inclusive by accepting anyone of any religious background or faith base. Oasis also recognizes the importance of reaching out to a child’s family in order to really improve a child’s world from the inside-out. This is what I find most impressive: the school knows that home life and environment are what heavily affect youths and, in order to truly make a difference, the school cannot reach out to the children alone. Aside from the academy, Oasis provides Oasis Hub Waterloo, a church that is not labeled a church so that families are able to congregate together in a welcoming, non-judgmental forum. By doing this, Oasis can be a part of the families’ lives as well and cater to any needs (emotionally, spiritually, economically) that they may need. These three organizations are only a sliver of the justice-informed groups and individuals that I have been blessed to come to know over our six weeks abroad.