American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
2011 Annual Report:
"Building lasting peace requires much more than merely stopping the violence. Healing and restoration, truth and reconciliation must be part of the process. Those displaced by war and famine, sometimes for decades, must be reintegrated into their communities. And economic development must bring opportunities for meaningful livelihoods to everyone."
Shan Cretin, General Secretary of AFSC
It's challenging to know what to include in a yearly report on an organization that accomplishes so much and is so involved in promoting Quaker Testimonies—especially peace—throughout the world. I find myself overwhelmed by the amount of information available on their website and newsletters. How do I decide what to include in this yearly report and what to leave out?
American Friends Service Committee is one of the most prominent and well-known Quaker organizations in the world. Many people find out about Quakerism through the service programs offered by AFSC. As Quakers, we are called to make our Testimonies more than just mere ideals; we are called to make them realities, first in our own lives, and then in the lives of others. Supporting AFSC, whether by volunteering or financial contributions, is one direct way of promoting Quaker Testimonies in the world... and, at the same time, being challenged to integrate the Testimonies into our own lives.
While AFSC has continued to be involved in supporting peace and equality in places like Haiti, Palestine, North Korea, and here in the US, one new development this year in particular is worth sharing.
This year the world has seen an uprising of popular mostly non-violent revolutions: first in the Middle East in what is now being called the "Arab Spring", and now here in the US and other Western countries in the "Occupy Wallstreet" movement. For those who aren't familiar with the "Occupy" movement, the method is the same non-violent approach that was used in countries during the "Arab Spring": citizens occupy places within cities and refuse to leave until meaningful change has occurred. For the "Arab Spring", the meaningful change was the overthrowing of oppressive dictators pretending to be elected Presidents; for the "Occupy" movement, the meaningful change desired is a change in our economic system. The "Occupy" movement seeks to challenge the wide inequality in our society between the richest 1% and the rest of us.
AFSC supports this movement and has released the following statement (located on their website here):
"At last count AFSC offices in 16 US cities were working to support the Occupy Together movement. AFSC staff and volunteers are supporting this wave of nonviolent actions highlighting economic injustice. This is not a movement AFSC can or wishes to control, but as we have during past social movements, AFSC is proud to be able to support people striving to bring about change in our society through nonviolent actions."
To end on a personal note, AFSC is one of only 3 non-profits that I support with a monthly donation. I choose to support AFSC because I strongly believe in the work that they do. Like all non-profits in today's economy, AFSC struggles to find the monetary support for the work they are called to do. As Quakers, I believe we are called to support AFSC in whatever ways we are able.
The world is evolving: non-violent protests have swept the entire world throughout the past year. AFSC is uniquely qualified to support those who are struggling to bring peace, integrity, and equality to their communities.
Report prepared by Tatiana Harrison