Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Basildon, Dale Farm, last days

I had the good fortune to spend time at Zelda's flat in Basildon, Essex. Zelda is associated with the London Catholic Worker, an atheist, and a former live in house manager. She was there in my first visit 18 months ago.

To hang out with Zelda, one needs to a) do the tread mill or similar conditioning lots first & b) be ready to go, go.
Zelda took me to the Dale Farm outside of Basildon where tinkers/Roma, gypsies have set up.

Dale Farm is experiencing prejudice & possible harm. Both seem to be all too common in the world. For more info, please do look at one of both www sites listed below.

Basically the land is owned by the travelers, a generic term which covers this group. But of course one must get permission to build.

About 1/3 of the people obtained permission previously to build on their land. More recently travelers moved there to set up residence. The problem is that the local government is averse to letting the newer people to build. The local Catholic priest & Evangelical minister have been outstanding in their support of these people. The people are under threat to be forceably removed - EVEN THOUGH the land is owned by travelers. Eviction is not what many in the U.S. would think. It is brutal. Bulldozers come in and anyone & anything in the way can all too often be done in.

I sat in a lovely modular home of a travelers and spoke withy her about her plight & her family for about 1 1/2 hours. The prejudice which often accompanies 'gypsies' is unfounded. I myself was perfectly comfortable & warmly received. Zelda, my friend, has been there many times over the years & knows them well. I hope to learn more & so what I can to solicit support to influence the Basildon Council to relent & be humane.

After our visit, Zelda guided us back on a mile & a half walk. Interestingly, we had to cross a dual carriage highway, legal, but harrowing. Cars whizzing by at about 60+ mph. We waited 5-10 minutes for a break & headed for it, climbing over the barrier and repeated this harrowing process again! Needless to say once was enough for me! We made it back ok, but was I cold by then.

About two hours later, our dear friend, Amanuel from Eritrea, joined us for the remainder of ther weekend. Part of what we did was go bowling again. But the alley this time was not the best as it was almost impossible to find a ball that fit one's finger size. Consequently both Zelda & I did terribly this time.

That's my story & I'm sticking to it !

I'm back in London for my last four days. I will cook a typical hamburger dinner for the guys & friends Tuesday night. Wednesday, it's back home. In the mean time I'll get to help a little, see two wonderful friends and visit a museuam or two briefly.

AND man is it cold here!


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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.