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Crafts fair supports benevolent organization

By Judith Scherr Daily Planet staff
Saturday November 24, 2001

The East Bay Sanctuary Covenant has been doing its good works for more than two decades – seeking asylum for refugees and planting trees in Haiti are among its projects. 

In part, the covenant’s work is supported by an annual crafts fair, which, this year, is being held today and tomorrow at the First Congregational Church at Dana Street and Channing Way.  

The fair not only helps support the EBSC, says Sister Maureen Duignan, OSF, director of the refugee project for the program, but also helps support the craft persons, such as a widows collective in Guatamala whose woven goods will be sold at the fair. 

Sister Duignan calls the EBSC’s asylum work, “the jewel of our program.” The actual work gets carried out by some 40 volunteers from the Central American Refugee Clinic of Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley’s law school. 

Duignan says this work not only benefits those seeking asylum, it is a transforming experience for the students, who learn about the lives of the refugees. 

“A very painful aspect of our work,” says Sister Duignan, “is that the people who came here (in the 1980s) are still in limbo.” They have work permits, social security cards, pay taxes, have raised their children here, but are not residents, and “they can’t go home to visit their relatives.” 

The EBSC, which is made up of a number of religious congregations, also supports a tree-planting project in Haiti. The project aims at erosion prevention. The covenant also helps to support students at a law school in Haiti, whose goal is to rebuild the country’s legal system. 

Crafts fair hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a presentation on Haiti at 11 a.m. on Saturday. For general information on the EBSC call 540-5296.