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STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 07/09/2013


In Focus: Alumni

The Shirt Off Your Back
Paul Daigle '97

Since graduating from Gordon I have been involved in various social justice organizations. I worked at and later led Starlight Ministries, an organization serving the homeless in Boston and Cambridge. I led a policy advocate committee at the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, and became involved with the Boston chapter of the ONE Campaign, which advocates for debt relief to developing countries and helps in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. I have also been involved with fair-trade issues.

This continuing passion for justice led me, during the past year, to start the business Off Your Back Shirts, which offers organic, sweatshop-free and fair-trade apparel. The company's values listed on the website come directly from Micah 6:8: justice, mercy and humility.

The company grew from a combination of passions: entrepreneurial vision, a passion for the poor and for a more just consumerism, and a love of creativity. We sell T-shirts in a variety of designs, and although not all of them are sweatshop-free, they soon will be. It was hard to find reliable producers of sweatshop-free clothing and/or fair-trade clothing that was also of high quality. Although fair trade--a movement seeking fairer wages and payments for producers in the developing world--is increasingly common in products like coffee, the clothing industry has moved slowly in joining the movement. We've now found some factories and distributors we hope we can work with long term. We wanted our shirts to have style, comfort and fair production. All of our shirts are organic or even recycled--a good thing, considering that approximately a third of a pound of pesticides is used for the cotton to produce just one cotton T-shirt.

As we grow we want to add more products that are made justly, and to grow in our ability to support and finance programs working in the areas of poverty and the environment around the world. We want to be a business where you can feel good about your purchases.

Paul Daigle is married to Diana, and they live in community with others in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Paul helps lead a house church and is currently the program manager for JP Centre/South Main Streets (www.jpcentresouth.org).

 


Barrington Reunion: "Be Still and Know That I Am God"
On June 9 over 300 alumni gathered at the former Barrington College campus in Barrington, Rhode Island, for a worship service and dinner. Bernice Graser '61 recited a medley of Psalms, and Roger Green, professor of biblical studies at both Barrington and Gordon, gave the keynote address. Drew Poulopoulos '79 led the reunion choir.

During dinner several alumni addressed their classmates. Emanuel Nasir '69, a native of Pakistan, spoke of being tutored in English by Mrs. de Vos, a Barrington English professor. Marion Bean '50 related the story of the purchase of the Barrington campus. Mark Ferrin '72 gave a brief devotional. The evening concluded with a candle lighting ceremony and the singing of the hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus."


Grace Akallo '07 Publishes Girl Soldier

"I did not know where I was going. I was not escaping, but God was leading me home. I did not know it at the time, but God was carrying me on His back when I thought I was walking by myself."
-Grace Akallo, Girl Soldier

On October 10, 1996, The Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan terrorist organization, kidnapped at gunpoint 15-year-old Grace Akallo and many of her classmates from St. Mary's College in Aboke, northern Uganda. For the next seven months Grace became one of the thousands of abducted child soldiers who make up 80 percent of the LRA. These children are subjected to a "spiritual initiation" into warfare and forced to kill--even relatives, neighbors and other children.

When Grace finally escaped, she began a long and difficult journey away from the horrors she had endured, but as a student at Uganda Christian University in Kampala, Uganda (2002-2004), and then later on at Gordon (2004-2007), Grace has been telling the story of the ongoing suffering of these children and of her country. Though she might have preferred to put these unspeakable events behind her and live a more ordinary life as a college student, her passion for the many child soldiers who did not escape, or who have been irreparably damaged by their experiences, has driven her to make their plight known. While at Gordon she completed an internship with World Vision and spoke in a symposium organized by World Vision and other NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) on the continuing crises in northern Uganda. In 2004 she spoke at an Amnesty International Annual Meeting and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In April 2006 she testified before a House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations, urging members of Congress to pressure the Ugandan government to end the war. Grace has recently graduated from Gordon with a communications major and hopes to go on to graduate studies in international relations and conflict resolution. 

This year, in partnership with author Faith McDonnell, she has published a book, Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda's Children (Chosen Books, 2007). Its preface is written by the Most Rev. Henry Orombi, archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda, who states, "It is my hope and prayer that as you read Girl Soldier you will see God walking with a young Acholi girl in her captivity, hear Him weeping for the deaths of His children, and whispering in the hearts of thousands to raise up a movement for these children."

 

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Paul Daigle
Barrington Reunion
Girl Soldier