East Shore’s Khasi Hills Partner Church program does some extremely good social action, but it is not just about doing good for others.
The program is an opportunity for East Shore members to get outside of America’s dominant culture and experience really living in a totally different and very beautiful context. Eight of us “pilgrims” spent two weeks in October with our Khasi Hills partners in NE India and got to see Unitarian values being lived out by incredible people in a very integrated community setting. We received so much more from this journey than we were able to give to the people we visited.
What did we do?
- We reinforced deep friendships with the ministers, school leaders, lay church members, and the top leaders of the NE India Unitarian Association.
- We held meetings with church and school boards to determine their aspirations and their programs’ greatest needs.
- We identified new areas where our partners need help: teacher certification training, support for a youth-led Unitarian conference, secure school fencing, education sponsorships.
- We visited four schools and taught classes to English- and Khasi-speaking students on three mornings.
- We visited an orphanage and returned on three afternoons to teach music lessons about the blues and singing.
- We gave “East Shore style” worship services at two churches at the request of our two partner churches.
- We attended a Unitarian tent meeting with nearly1000 Unitarians from all over NE India.
- We visited several homes to talk with individual families and find out about their lives.
What did we learn?
- We made many friends and enjoyed the warm hospitality of the Unitarians in the communities that we visited, including our host families.
- We learned about the lives of ordinary Unitarians in rural villages and towns and the rich integrated community-based lives that they lead, despite having low incomes.
- We saw how hard they worked to raise gardens, children, and run their schools, churches, and villages in accordance with their values.
- We sang their beautiful hymns, heard their passionate sermons, and felt their enthusiasm for Unitarian values and social action.
- We had a lot of fun and shared the Khasi people’s joys and their zest for life.
We are presenting a worship service at East Shore in February about our pilgrimage. We hope you will attend in order to experience some of the joy we felt, and to learn about these incredible Unitarians in NE India.
Submitted by Doug Strombom and Barb Clagett