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...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

He can approach the gate but not go no further.

Standing in the modern check-in hall at Heathrow Terminal 5, we hugged and said our good byes. I could not budge as I watched my African friend retrace our steps on his way back to London and to the daily limbo he and so many others live.

My heart was filled with sadness at the complete insanity of governments. There I stood holding a page with my picture on it which allowed me to go anywhere. Why me? What had I or any of my countrymen done to deserve such freedom while this good man had experienced difficulties, loss and sadness beyond imagination?

Fair. Oh such a ready word in 1st world countries - we have no clue.

He insists on accompanying me to the airport each time I leave England - enduring a tube ride that can feel endless. I appreciate his assistance in getting awkward and heavy bags to the airport. Yet each time I struggle wondering what he must be feeling.

I do not ask of course fearing it would make reality's sting all the more real.

He can approach the gate but not go no further. I am 65; he 29. Where is the sense and fairness of it all? I have been blessed with a good life. He waits for his to begin. England is by far is one of the best countries in Europe to escape to. Should he be lucky, and that is very questionable, he will have to wait a mere 14 years or his life to begin.

This thoroughly good young man possessing a quick mind, a kind heart and incredible skills wakes up each morning to what? Yes he is much better off in England away from torture & prison. At home he was the wrong kind of Christian. But he cannot work or go to school legally. How do you live then, waiting for 14 years? What happens to your mind and spirit?

Initially in England his body racked with tuberculosis because like so many others he was forced to live on the streets, he knew no one. How is it possible that this young man retains such a gentle spirit, a ready wit, and consideration rarely witnessed on the streets of our modern world?

I have come to love this young man who has endured so much and now exists in a world consumed with 'ego,' power and puffery. He is like so many from Africa, the Middle East or Asia who escape tyranny, only to languish while we in the "first world" sort out our convenience.

When I wonder will we awake from our self-absorbed world and open our eyes much less our hearts?

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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.