Camden Hills Amnesty club collects for souls in Syria
Rockport — Article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Such is the mantra of a group of local high school students providing greatly needed supplies to women and children in Syria.
Members of Camden Hills Regional High School’s Amnesty International Club campaign for human rights and speak out against human right abuses through organizing events, letter writing, lobbying government officials and helping victims.
“Those students who join Amnesty come with an interest in human rights, and a desire to raise awareness about human rights issues, as well as creating an action that in some way could help with the situation,” Amnesty advisor Liz Dailey said. “As I tell the students, our first job is always to inform and educate their peers. We have many Amnesty tablings in the front hall that work to that end. Many times it will be signing a petition or writing to heads of state about a human rights situation in their country. On several occasions we have been able to do a school-wide collection as we have for the Syrian children located in refugee camps.”
This year students teamed up with community member Alison McKellar to gather supplies to help victims of human rights violation. All of the supplies gathered go to NuDay Syria, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing humanitarian aid inside Syria. The focus is on bringing housing and food to displaced families with single mothers or wounded family members.
“Women and children are lacking basic necessities and the Amnesty group here at the high school have been amazing help meeting some of those needs,” McKellar said. "Currently I’m collecting used shrink-wrap that is used to winterize boats and making tent to be used as shelters."
According to Dailey, McKellar has been a great asset in helping organize the logistics of getting the supplies to the shipping containers.
“She is amazing,” Dailey said. “She has been a great contact to have in the community and she really understands how the whole process works.”
Dailey said the senior leadership shown by Hannah Corney and Kiera Haining during the project exemplified the core values of the organization and the participation of the group as a whole was inspiring.
“Students who are involved in the Amnesty group experience invaluable lessons. It is about having empathy for others; it is about putting human rights, anyone’s human rights, as a priority in their lives,” Dailey said. “Yes, our young people are busy with their own activities, but their involvement is truly inspirational. Students practice meaningful skills such as tabling [setting up a table with information], whether at school or downtown Camden, and invite people to hear the background and our purpose. It takes courage, and it makes me so proud of our young people.”
Items collected were rice, pasta, diapers,medical supplies like Band-Aids, tape, gauze, gently used clothes and new socks.
Amnesty International Club members this year included Hannah Corney, Kiera Haining, Anabelle Carter, Helen Carter, Raine Ellison, Mariah Does-Hooke, Jade Hazard, Gavin Boyd, Emily Quinn, Sara Wandell, Emily Haining and Maya Sosland.
Ellison and Helen Carter have been selected as senior leaders for the upcoming school year, Dailey said.
Over the three-year conflict in Syria, 5.5 million children have been affected and close to 3 million are no longer able to attend school. With more then 1 million children living as refugees in neighboring countries, more than 8,000 children have arrived at the Syrian boarder without parents.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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