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...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It is Breaking My Heart

I would prefer to share outright the stories of individuals I know & now call my friends who have had to flee their country. They often have been tortured, imprisoned, treated very badly.

It is a painful experience for them to relate, and as well I do not want to get too specific on the net.

What I can do is tell you about many of the experiences they have had. I will not individualize it so as to protect their security, such as it is.

BUT, I can tell you what I have all too painfully come to know.

So then speaking for them, Who am I ?

1. In all likelihood I have had to flee my country because:

  • I belonged to the wrong religion.

  • I've been in prison & tortured. My only hope was to escape.

2. I've traveled on foot, in trucks, under train seats across Europe, Africa, the Middle East.

  • I do not speak English, and I do not know the judicial system.

  • I have nothing, am on the streets, and starving.

  • Most likely I have no one. My family are dead or lost themselves.
. I am here to seek asylum. Iwill likely have to wait 5 to 15 years.
  • I may not work. I have no health insurance. I have nothing.
  • I must depend on the goodness & help of groups like Catholic Worker, Primark (United Church of Christ, the Jesuit Refugee Services, the Simon Community.

4. What do I do while I wait?

  • I am not allowed to go to Community College to develop skills for a trade, or prepare for a career in engineering.
  • I spend my time walking, sitting around, watching DVDs, go to the library to read a newspaper - that's if I'm lucky enough to be housed by a group religious or secular.
  • I walk past shops all day long advertising the latest!
  • I see headlines like:

The £50 M fixer-upper.

Tom Cruise picks up the Screen Icon Award.

A Fuller Looking Head on Hair in 30 Minutes

Fergie: I want to be the next dancing Queen.

Glen Beck Informs or is that mis informs!

  • This is my existence morning, noon and night.

5. Can I get deported back to my country where I will likely be imprisoned, tortured, starved?

  • Yes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Greetings from Hammersmith, London

Despite Brit Air strike threat & volcanic ash, I was able to get here - just before the airport was closed. Courts have temporarily halted the strike.

Enthusiastically welcomed. After tossing my stuff in hostel, I made my way to the Urban Table Soup Kitchen. After Danny treated me to dinner in Chinatown. We had a lovely visit & chatted for hours.

The British election:

The new govt is an interesting marriage of conservative & liberal. Lib Dems are more liberal than labour. Question is will it last or will there have to be elections in 18 months or so. Budget cuts are in the offing. Hopefully Lib Dems can restrain the Tory's from hitting the poor & working classes. One thought: instead of radically reducing nurses pay, perhaps cut govt. miniters pay in 1/2! Oh, not possible, huh. 'Surprise!'

Apparently. Cameron is not cut from the same cloth as Thatcher who did not recognize social justice issues. Quidado Margaret, St. Peter awaits!

Americans in Hammersmith:

After dinner with Danny, I though I'd go to bed. After all I'd been up for 37 hours! Back at the hostel I ran into two young college graduates from Boston. What I thought would be a brief chat turned into a wonderful time of sharing on all kinds of topics: wonderful young people. Consequently I gto to bed at 2:30 a.m. which meant I had been up for 43 1/2 hours!
Now that's a record!

Kabob with Mrs. G

A teahcer at my daughter's school gave me some money (unsolicited) to help with the asylum seeks here in London. I took Amanuel, Mao, and Nicholas (a new guest from Sudan) out for Kabob. It was excellent & not pricey. The guys savored every bite. Thanks Mrs. G :-)

Today it's off to see Zelda & hang out with wonderful Chris at the Quaker Center. Tomorrow a visit to the Jesuit Refugee Services to learn what I can do. Sunday off to Andulacia, Spain for study and...

Cheers all !

Cheers all!


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.