“People can be transformed by being open and human. We believe that people have a need to be heard, but how they are heard really matters – if they take the risk of telling their story, it needs to make a difference.” – Denise Altvater
We all have a story of self. What’s utterly unique about each of us is not the categories we belong to; what’s utterly unique to us is our own journey of learning to be a full human being, a faithful person. And those journeys are never easy. They have their challenges, their obstacles, their crises. We learn to overcome them, and because of that we have lessons to teach. In a sense, all of us walk around with a text from which to teach, the text of our own lives.
When I was 14, my mother took me to a weekend-long Quaker work camp in West Philadelphia, one of the last before the program was closed in 2005. I painted a hallway blue, prepared simple meals, and slept in a sleeping bag. By Sunday afternoon, I knew that I had been transformed.
“These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born.
We must move past indecision to action. …
Now let us begin. Now let us re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”
Denise Altvater is a member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and has worked for AFSC for eighteen years. She has been instrumental in developing the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission between a sovereign Tribal Nation, the Wabanaki, and a U.S. state, Maine, to address hurts caused by the foster care system. The commission will be seated on February 12, 2013.
How do we—as Quakers, as humans—address climate change? It’s a broad question about a multi-faceted issue, I know—and one that I’m certainly not ready to answer in 500 words or fewer. But Quakers around the country are gathering in their local meetings and churches to ask this question, consider answers, and work with others to speak about and advocate for the solutions they propose.
AFSC is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development, and peace programs throughout the world. Our work is based on the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice. Learn more
Where we work
AFSC has offices around the world. To see a complete list see the Where We Work page.