Written by Sarah K., Church of the Incarnation, Oakville, Ontario
On the morning of Sunday, May 7, I gathered up all my bags and headed out to the Via Rail station where I would await my train to Ottawa. Not really knowing what to expect, I promised myself that I would try my best to keep an open mind whatever may happen. My destination? The Anglican Advocacy Justice Camp being hosted by the Diocese of Ottawa.
I woke early Monday morning and headed down to the lobby where I met up with all the other anxious Advocacy Justice Campers who were ready to begin day one. When I first stepped foot in Church of the Ascension, I looked around frantically for a familiar face. Thankfully, I spotted Evan whom I had known from other Niagara youth ministry events. Needless to say, Evan and I pretty much clung together for most of the day still unsure of what to make of the whole situation. One thing we did know: we had both been placed in the Development and Aid group. I was ecstatic considering development and aid had always been something I wanted to learn more about.
Throughout the course of the week, our group attended many scheduled events and meetings all around the city. The most memorable meeting for me was with a man named Mr. Joseph Kahigwa. Joseph is the Deputy Ambassador of Uganda who was visiting the High Commission office during the time of Justice Camp. We walked into his office where we were greeted by tons of food awaiting us on the table. Joseph was a kind man who truly cared about his people and was overjoyed that we had come to speak to him on behalf of anyone who wishes to help.
The next day while Evan was meeting with Liberal MP, John McCallum, I had the opportunity to sit down with Diane Ablonczy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance). Although we were supposed to be talking about development and aid issues, Ablonczy seemed more focused on the issue of poverty. According to her, stability within the family is the key to defeating the cycle of poverty. Whether or not the group agreed with her statement, we were very grateful that she had taken time out of her schedule to meet with us.
As the week went on, we met with many important individuals such as the Vice President of CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency), Kathy Vandergrift from the Make Poverty History Campaign, Joan Broughton of the United Nations Association of Canada and many others who had come to share their own personal experiences with us.
Whenever I share my experience of AJC with others, they always get the impression that it was all work and no play, which is definitely not true! There was always plenty of time for the regular tourist activities and opportunity to socialize with people from other groups.
One evening I managed to join the Homelessness and Poverty group for their night walk around the city. This night walk turned out to be a real eye-opener. The amount of homelessness I encountered was unbelievable and really showed that homelessness is a national disaster and must be dealt with immediately.
Experience of a lifetime
Overall I believe that my experiences at Advocacy Justice Camp will remain with me forever. I wish all the delegates the best in their day-to-day lives carrying out the lessons we all shared together. As for now, I look forward to the next Justice Camp. See you there!
Info and registration forms for the Justice Camps can be found at http://www.justicecamp.org
(article from the Niagara Anglican, photos from the Justice Camp website www.justicecamp.org)