Linda Lewis, director of AFSC’s program in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea), traveled to North Korea in the wake of political tensions this spring to visit AFSC’s partner farms. Hers was the first American group to visit following the end of the joint war
games between the U.S. and South Korea.
“Our partners were pleased that we were willing to come to Pyongyang,” Linda says. “We ourselves were also pleased that the tensions
hadn’t gotten in the way of what is a usual visit to our partners.”
The AFSC delegation spent a day at each farm, meeting first with the farm engineer and political officers to talk about how the harvest went, review any problems, and discuss new developments on the farm. Then they toured the fields before sitting down for lunch.
As Washington, D.C. works toward becoming a true Human Rights City, AFSC is expanding the reach of human rights lessons that have engaged D.C. school children for five years. This summer, AFSC’s D.C. program hosted a week-long human rights summit, inviting high school and college students from St. Louis; New Orleans; Greensboro, N.C.; Logan, W.Va.; and Washington, D.C.
Together they explored the United Nations’ Declaration on Human Rights, conducted research on a human rights issue in their respective communities, and helped one another prepare for meetings with their Congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.
Asia-Vinae Palmer, an intern with the New Orleans program, said the experience put her in touch with the power of her own voice. “I came to the city thinking that my voice was powerful, but upon leaving I knew that it was not only powerful, but it mattered—and there are people who will listen and work on creating change.”
In May, West Virginia increased access to health care when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced a long-awaited decision to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income workers under the Affordable Care Act. At least 91,500 working West Virginians will get insurance coverage under the expansion.
AFSC’s Rick Wilson and Beth Spence worked with several religious, labor, and advocacy organizations to bring the voices of those impacted by the decision into the debate and in front of the governor, state legislators, and public officials.
Medicaid expansion was the top item on the platform of Our Children, Our Future, a campaign opposing child poverty, in which AFSC has been very active. The coalition sponsored a Kids and Families Day at the state legislature that over 450 people attended, and held regional forums throughout the state. Rick and Beth spoke at public forums, published op-eds, met with state officials, and worked to mobilize supporters
of the expansion to contact the governor’s office.
“We were proud to be part of a large collective effort that will help a lot of people,” Beth says.