Blog: 23 March 2009
What an amazing week we all have had here in Camden. For some of us it was our first trip in. For others, our second, third, forth, and fifth time in the city. Regardless of the number of times we had been to the city, we were challenged by what we saw, the kids we interacted with, and our role in it all. As college students, we are trying to figure out our calling in life--our vocation. Coming to Camden has opened our eyes a little more to the needs of a broken city, a broken world, and a broken people. Each of us have been wrestling with the questions, "Why are there cities like Camden?" "How do you change the odds for the children who live in this city?" "What is our role?" and "What are things we have learned from UP and the city to take back to our own communities to serve both those who live in our immediate communities and those who live in Camden?" As our week comes to a close we are left with more questions than answers--but maybe that is where we are supposed to be--questioning...searching...
From scraping paint off the trim of a building to getting beat in Connect Four by an eleven year old we have encountered both the beauty and brokenness of humanity. From the heart-breaking stories of the lives of the children to the joy-filled laughter as we played together on the playground we have had the opportunity to experience something life-changing--something Holy.
A first timer on our trip looked at me the first day we were here and said, "Urban Promise is a place that you know has been blessed by God". Thank you Urban Promise for allowing us to come and be a small part of something amazing-- of something that changes the lives of all who are involved-- of something sacred.
Ashley Clayton, Georgetown College
Serving a community often considered the most poverty-stricken city within the United States opened my eyes not only to the daily struggles faced by residents of Camden but also to the social injustice created as a byproduct of politics. Breathing the putrid air at a playground near the sewage facility, which was considered "acceptable" on that particular day, was only a tiny glimpse into the environment forged upon people living in the vicinity.
The definition of poverty for me has been redefined to include socioeconomic disadvantages that prevent a particular group from having a voice in the placement and development of undesirable facilities, such as wastewater systems and prisons. The fact that many kids did not show up on that day of the Olympics was a testament to the repulsive stench there.
In addition, interacting with kids K-8, StreetLeaders, and interns at an UrbanPromise after-school program was perhaps the most rewarding and valuable experience from the trip. I had the opportunity to see what Camden was like through their eyes,and, from these exchanges, learn more about community dynamics as well as myself as an individual. The week we helped out in Camden was well-spent and inspires me to pursue engaging in activities with UrbanPromise in the future.
-Tracy, Bowdoin College