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Support a good cause at the Beta Sigma Phi fair

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By Kirsten Laskey

Art is more than a painting to hang on the wall or a song to listen to on the radio. It can be a tool to change someone’s life.

A nonprofit organization based in New York, called Unified for Global Healing, puts this belief into practice. The organization, according to its Web site, has a network of physicians, nurses, social workers and artists who work together to provide a direct service, cross-cultural exchange and promote the advancement of global health.

The organization has traveled to Haiti, Jamaica and plans to go to Ghana.  The group will travel to the Gurgaon District in India to collaborate with a hospital and pre-schools in December.

Maureen Mahoney-Barraclough of Los Alamos will join Unified for Global Healing on this mission.

She said she will be in India for about three weeks. The health and childcare professionals will partner with the hospital to address maternal child health issues such as nutrition and poison safety.

Mahoney-Barraclough will join the work with the pre-schools to address these particular issues. The schools, she explained, are Anganwadi schools which are equivalent to the Head Start schools in the U.S.

The children who attend these schools are between 3- and 5-years- old.

 Mahoney-Barraclough said she learned about the organization after doing service work in Uganda. A friend referred her to Unified for Global Healing and the organization asked if she wanted to participate in the India project.

“When a friend told me about their work, I looked up their Web site and the vision they have to combine medicine with art to communities in need appealed to me,” she said.

She explained this philosophy is compatible to  her  beliefs.

She explained for her work in India, the arts will play a vital role since children learn through play, she said.

She added art is not the only way to learn, but it is a fun way to be educated.

Art is being utilized in other ways for this project. To help provide supplies to the pre-school classrooms, Mahoney-Barraclough will sell hand-made winter hats and other items during the Beta Sigma Phi’s Fall Arts and Crafts Fair from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church.

Other people have donated things such as hand-made scarves, cloth dolls and children’s clothing accessories.

“I’ll have a variety of hand-made (items) that people donated for helping out on this project,” Mahoney-Barraclough said.

Whether it is through Unified for Global Healing or another organization, she emphasized the importance of volunteering.

“I think it’s important to volunteer here (in Los Alamos) and in our country,” Mahoney-Barraclough said. “I think that it is also important for all of us to reach out and try to help others across all boundaries.”

Volunteering also provides learning opportunities. When people learn about others, Mahoney-Barraclough said, it opens up their own experiences.