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, June 19, 2010

Staying in South London

If you look on a tourist map in any guide you will see nothing of East or South London. Well they have to show the south bank of the Thames, but that's about it.

Because my original lodging plans were unexpectedly cancelled on me, I found it necessary to hunt down a place to stay given my five week stint.

Now Woolwich Arsenal meant nothing to me. It is a distance from central London, a hour by bus when traffic is good. It's not so much unsafe as it is populated with many tough people.

The hostel, Queen Victoria, is an experience in itself. It's cheap - longer stay is £10 a night; it's got two connected rooms on the first floor (that would be ground floor here. 1st floor here is our 2nd !) where you can stretch out, play pool or watch telly. I've done only the first. Its rooms face a street noisy all night with traffic - fortunately that doesn't bother me. BUT most importantly, the guests are most interesting.

Here mainly to work or go to school, they hail from Spain, Italy, France, Estonia, Nigeria, Ireland and Australia. Most stay for about 6 months. ~There are a few like me, but no Americans.

Returning from a day out, you are greeted by each person who inquires into your day.

Up at 6:30, I thought I would have 60-90 minutes on my own on a Saturday a.m. Not so, by 7:00 there were 5 of us in the kitchen.

What ensured was a fascinating discussion - more like me listening to thoughtful replies to my initial question about a very poorly done event at Amnesty Internation in London. To a person there was general agreement that many European nations are anti-Israel, read anti-semitic. A Swede acknowledge that Sweden is a very prejudiced nation & the most anti-semitic country in Europe. I had been previously been told this.

My question came about because of a Panel Discussion I attended last week at the London Amnesty International offices. That experience was appallingly biased beyong belief. The panel moderator was anything but. He dismissed anyone who spoke up for Israel. His poor behavior led to the audience acting much like I've seen on TV by the "birthers or some tea parties" back home. Am I in London?

If you have an interest email me & I'll attach the letter I sent to AI in London.

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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.