Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Fun things you can do for free

Curry tonight with Phil and Sarah and our first chance to catch up properly post Greenbelt. They helped run the Escape to Safety and I hear about how that went and catch up on how the lives of some of the Refugees that helped out have moved on since last year.

One Ugandan lad is just amazing – in fact we’ve yet to find something he doesn’t do well.

Despite having been left homeless and destitute by our delightful government the other year when he was a 17 yr old lad with no family or friends, he has an amazing commitment to getting involved in the community that he is now an adopted member of.

He says he loves the people of Gloucester and feels they have taken him to their hearts (conveniently forgetting the 7 nights he had to sleep rough in a park then…).

He gave up double-time paid work to volunteer at Greenbelt this year, because “this stuff is important”.

He has a place to study Engineering at University, but is going to take a gap year so he can “give something back first” doing care work and voluntary stuff.

He continues to work alongside Asylum Seeker and Refugee communities where he lives and harangues the Albanian’s he knows re getting more involved in British life. In fact the guy has learnt to speak good Albanian just so that he can help teach them English to aid this cause.

People like this leave me in awe.

At the end of the festival punters and traders once again donated huge amounts of left-over provisions that Escape to Safety will pass on to a project in Manchester that supports destitute Asylum Seekers. The project in question is run by a guy I know from years back, who also attended with the Escape to Safety gang – his first visit to Greenbelt.

I always liked him and his wife despite their rather fundamental evangelical ways, but it’s hard not to have your opinion of someone dented rather when they bring a vote to have you and your friends removed from membership of a church for being too political and liberal. In fact although the vote went in our favour, the episode still ultimately put an end to my attempts at mainstream church attendance.

That however is a long, long time ago. Years on and through his involvement in a homeless charity and increasing work with Asylum Seekers, it’s fair to say the guy has moved on somewhat. The traces of the evangelical are still there, but far from being the sort of person who would have condemned Greenbelt for it’s non-evangelistic and rather broad church ways, his verdict was “really good, but not political enough”.

Similarly on discussion of what to do with several hundred condoms donated by one of the traders, his verdict was to give them out to destitute Asylum Seekers, “after all there’s not many fun things you can do for free…”.

Backslider ;-)

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