The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a historic, nonsectarian organization that works around the world to free people in crisis zones from social injustices. Here are 3 interesting facts about them:

1. UUSC Has an Important History of Helping People

Founded by Martha and Waitstill Sharp in 1940, Unitarian Service Committee, the precursor to UUSC, has an intriguing background story. At the beginning of World War II, there were over 200,000 refugees fleeing to Prague as the Nazis took over what was then Czechoslovakia. The Sharps felt the pull to go to Europe and help, so for 5 months they performed risky missions to get at risk people out of the Nazi controlled areas.

The next year, as the war raged on, the organization brought food to the children of France and helped even more refugees escape. By the end of WWII, Unitarian Service Committee had helped thousands of people escape Nazi rule. In 1945, it joined with its neighbor, Universalist Service Committee, together as UUSC, and the organization returned to Europe to aid in post-war relief projects.

2. Aiding the Displaced is One of their Main Focuses

The conflicts throughout Uganda and Somalia have wreaked havoc on East Africa in recent years, and UUSC has been assisting refugees and helping people move back into their communities.

Armed conflict and severe famine in Somalia have forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes. In response, UUSC built centers to feed and educate 2,000 children, and constructed boreholes to provide thousands of refugees with water. UUSC also set up a program that helps women and girls in displacement camps who have been victims of gender-based violence.

In Uganda, the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army pushed 1.8 million people out of their communities over the years. UUSC has made it one of their main missions to help the displaced return home and restart their lives in a peaceful way. Their village rebuilding efforts have already reached 20,000 people and include community leadership training, loans for women, literacy training, and the creation of bicycle ambulances.

3. Creating Successful Democracies is Key to UUSC

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee believes that strong leadership is needed in the Middle East and North Africa where the Arab Spring occurred. Without it, the underlying tension in the region could worsen and all positive headway towards building participatory democracies could be lost.

One project UUSC created to serve this cause is a voter-education program that taught over 10,000 Egyptians about their personal rights. The organization also instructed activists in the Middle East and North Africa on how to mobilize and create political change through social media. In addition, UUSC funded research on the root causes of instability in the region and on how to make democratic progress after conflicts, all of which they hope will help democracies succeed in the area in the future.

– Caylee Pugh

Sources: Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, UU World GovTrack.US
Photo: UUSC