United Workers Annual Human Rights Dinner is our way of honoring the tremendous leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to social justice and human rights in Baltimore. This event marks our Poverty Scholars graduation. This year we are thrilled to be able to share with you the tremendous work of Armando Tema and Raquel Rojas. Armando is graduating from the program, completing his three years of study and Raquel is advancing to her final year in the program.
Join us April 22nd at 5pm Presbytery of Baltimore
5400 Loch Raven Blvd. Baltimore
Buy your tickets online by going to our eventbrite page
Let us know you’ll be coming and paying at the door, 410-230-1998 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Value of an Education
We believe that movements for transformative change are built, not born, by many many leaders united around human rights values. Our goal for 2012 is to recruit 50 new monthly Sustainers, these are people in the community who want to contribute monthly to sustaining this growing movement. Becoming a Sustainer ensures that the United Workers can continue to carry out the type of long-term leadership development, like the Poverty Scholars and New Organizers Program. If you can’t attend the Human Rights Dinner, the next best thing is to become a Sustainer or make a one time contribution. You can do so by going here!
Armando reflects on his personal transformation and experience in United Workers Poverty Scholars program:
After coming to the U.S, I experienced many things that were worse than what I experienced in Guatemala. Back in Guatemala I only worked for 8 to 9 hours a day, but here I was working 12 to 14 hours per day under unfair conditions for what I thought was a “good salary.” But I thought that was just how things work here. I worked with the same boss for a year until he began paying us with bad checks. As we pressured him to pay us, he decided to fire us. I became unemployed, and let me tell you, that was very hard. I thought I’d never find a job; I was sad and worried about all of my expenses. I had to find another job quickly, which led me to work at removing dirt in a basement for 15 days. I received nothing, not even a penny, because the contractor claimed he himself had not been paid for the job but we never knew if it was true or not.
I met others with similar experiences and they said there is nothing you can do and that I just had to accept it. I spent a year working just 2 to 3 days per week and when I worked one full week I wasn’t sure if I would get paid for everything. This was how I lived, day to day. Until one morning I met two people who told me about justice and some ways to solve these problems. I was unsure if I could actually contribute to change the situation and I did not understand how. But I thought, “Well, what can I lose if I decide to learn a little bit more about what these people do?” That day I learned, 1st of all what was happening to all workers was not legal, 2nd, that it was all too common and 3rd that there was something to do to eliminate these situations. I thought to myself, “this is interesting and I want to learn more about what to do.” I don’t want to work hard for free.
My difficult and bitter experiences led me to be part of United Workers and strive for the possibility of change; this was the hope that I was looking for. Now I say we must prepare to fight for justice. For over 4 years United Workers has led me where I could not reach by myself.
You might ask me what place I’m in now. My answer to that is a place where I better understand the meaning of unity, organizing, justice, solidarity and cooperation. I met other people in different places with the same struggles, but specifically connected with families within our community. I’ve also spent three years studying and reflecting on politics, poverty economy, culture, history, morality and justice, etc. All of these things have impacted and changed my life. They have allowed me to see things from another point of view and see the reality that another society is possible and that united we can achieve the change. I understand that we have common problems and we can find common solutions if we work together as brothers and sisters. We must leave behind all those obstacles that prevent unity and organization; and that through the unity of the community will build strength and power.