Memphis, Tenn. – March 25, 2003 – A circle of college students sits eating a picnic lunch on a sunny spring afternoon, but there is no blanket, no basket and no ocean waves for hundreds of miles.
|Lezli-O'Neal Sullivan holds two of the children in day care at the Salvation Army's Perdue Center of Hope while Julie Propst reads them a story during GO Memphis.|
“This trip is not about what I can get out of it,” said Union sophomore Kathryn Johnson. “It’s about how I can be used.”
The group spent the morning assisting with the packing of birthing kits which will be shipped to Afghanistan. The simple items they placed in a plastic bag—soap, latex gloves, gauze and antiseptic—could be the difference between life and death for an Afghan woman or her child.
“Medical conditions there are terrible,” said Connie Kellum of the Baptist Health Science College in Memphis who oversaw the project. The 2000 birthing kits are part of an effort to reduce the exceptionally high infant mortality rate in Afghanistan, she said.
After their parking lot picnic, the all female group is back to work, sorting clothes, preparing care packages and compiling reading instruction materials at the Salvation Army’s Perdue Center of Hope.
Union junior and Memphis native Crystal Taylor had considered going overseas on missions, but chose this opportunity instead. “I was convicted to do work at home first,” she said. “I felt like I should take care of my own backyard.”
|Andrea Hudgins sorts shoes at the Salvation Army's Purdue Center of Hope during GO Memphis.|
Their next assignment is the Moriah House, a Christ-centered, long-term shelter for women who have suffered abuse or have drug or alcohol addiction. The students will spend time cleaning the facilities, sorting donations and helping care for the children of the women in the program. According to Moriah House counselor Liz Teal, the actual work is secondary to the message it sends to the women living there.
“Because of the lifestyle these women have lived their families have abandoned them,” Teal said. “The presence of these students provides reinforcement that there are people who support them in their efforts to change.”
That is a message these Union students are happy to send. “They need to feel genuine love from Christ instead of the false love of the person who abused them,” said Union freshman Lezli-O’Neal Sullivan.
By the end of the week, these students will have helped meet the tangible needs of individuals on two continents. And they will never be more than 100 miles from their dormitories.
For more information on the Moriah House, contact Beverly Thomas at (901) 522-8819.
For more information on Union University or its programs, including Global Opportunity Trips, call (731) 668-1818.
By Chris Allen
Director of News and Media Relations