United Village’s Story

United Village has been a long time vision of Gretchen Rowe, parent, Seattle Public School Teacher, and member of Interfaith Community Sanctuary in Seattle, Washington.

When her own children were in elementary school, Gretchen taught English as a Second Language to the non-English speaking parents (mostly mothers) at their school.  During that time, she dreamed of somehow creating a “United Village” where people from different cultures could come together in partnership, to learn from and support each other socially, emotionally, and also in commerce.

In 2013, Gretchen began taking small steps towards her dream of United Village when, in partnership with Interfaith Community Sanctuary, she started Peace Camp.  In 2014, United Village began showing itself when Saori Otsuka, one of Gretchen’s former ESL students from Japan, got in touch with her asking if 6 students from her English school in Japan could attend Peace Camp for 2 weeks, which they did. Then, in the fall of 2015, Gretchen was introduced to Sr. Lucy Kurien, the founder of Maher Ashram, an orphanage in Pune, India, and Gaus Sayyad, one of the young men who grew up in Maher.  That summer, Peace Camp was able to bring Gaus over as its first international counselor.

In the fall of 2015, Gretchen met Fr. Centurio Olaboro from Uganda.  Like Sr. Lucy, he has an organization that supports the underserved in his community.  That winter, Gretchen traveled to India and spent 2 months at Maher.  She then traveled to Uganda and spent 1 month as a guest of Uganda Martyrs Orphan Project. From that trip, more relationships and ideas of working together developed, and United Village took true form.  Interfaith Community Sanctuary, Peace Camp International, Maher, and Uganda Martyrs Orphan Project all work hand in hand, heart to heart, which has become United Village. Each organization realizes every human being is important, and we all need each other in one way, or another. United Village is our effort to support each other in our efforts to bring humanity closer together.  Common people united for common good.

Today, United Village has supported and/or funded partnerships between Interfaith Community Sanctuary, Maher, and Uganda Martyrs Orphan Project; First People educational outreach at McDonald International School in Seattle; school tuition for students in Uganda (elementary, secondary, and post high school); provided farming assistance to a local farmer in eastern Uganda, provided start-up costs for a young beekeeping entrepreneur; funded transportation, housing, and food for the international Peace Camp team from the U.S.A., India, and Uganda.