Human Rights Day: ‘I’m grateful I had the opportunity to participate’
On Tuesday, March 8, Indiana State University hosted its 15th annual Human Rights Day, an event the Sisters of Providence have participated in for many years.
Dr. Mukesh Kapila – who is a professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom – served as the keynote speaker.
Dr. Kapila is also a humanitarian expert and international aid diplomat. He also served as director for the World Health Organization, and was head of the United Nations in Sudan.
Three Sisters of Providence, Sisters Marsha Speth, Mary Montgomery and Donna Butler, all attended the event this year and came away with many reflections. Coincidentally, Sister Marsha represents the Sisters of Providence on the Human Rights Day Committee, and has for approximately five years.
“This kind of event is where we need to be,” she said. “It fits with our mission of love, mercy and justice. It’s about education, too.
“Even though some of the topics are about people whose human rights are denied and places where freedom, justice, and peace are non-existent, I still come away with hope because light is being shown and injustice is exposed for what it is.”
Sister Marsha added she was pleased to see so many area youth stop by the Sisters of Providence booth.
“Our White Violet Center banner with the gardens caught their eyes,” she said. “I asked if they would be interested in learning about an internship in organic gardening and working with animals. Several readily took our brochure! And, of course, our prayer for Non-Violence is always a welcome take-away!”
Sister Mary has attended this event in the past, and said she believes it’s important that the Sisters of Providence are involved.
“I think this is an invaluable way for the Sisters of Providence and staff to make a contribution in the community related to our values and mission of social justice, love and mercy,” Sister Mary said. “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to participate.”
The Sisters of Providence also host a dinner for the speakers and committee the evening before the event.
“I am proud that the Sisters of Providence are one of the sponsors and that our leadership (and others host the speakers and committee for dinner the night before,” Sister Mary said.
Sister Mary added she was pleased to see Dr. Kapila’s presentation.
“I was very inspired and challenged by Dr. Kapila,” she said. “His courage and determination in the face of evil in Sudan, the lack of action by the Sudanese government and the United Nations were powerful. He did the right thing by letting the world media know about the atrocities in Darfur at great personal risk.”
Sister Mary also saw Dr. Kapila speak at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum later that evening.
She also was a spectator for Bill Foley, an Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist who presented “Art Meets News: The Stories and Photographs of Bill Foley,” during Human Rights Day.
“His work for justice, getting the story out from very dangerous, troubled places in the world, as well as his compassion and deep human interest in persons being affected by violence, natural disasters, lack of food, etc., touched my heart,” Sister Mary said. “In talking with him afterward, I learned he was taught by the Sisters of Providence at Saint Joan of Arc, in Indianapolis!”
White Violet Center for Eco-Justice Associate Director Robyn Morton also presented “Climate Change versus Global Warming versus Climate Chaos, and more,” during the event.
Below is video of portions of the event, including the opening African Drumming Session, hosted by Indiana State University student Kirk Owusu Moore.