Tuesday, 8 November 2011


There is much that could be said about the recent trip to the Middle East. This young man is probably the hero of the piece in many ways.
The coffee shop he runs is in a refugee camp.
Now get this....43 villages were told in 1967 they would need to be in a camp for 15 days ....here we are 60 odd years later and they are still there.
This guy (who runs a modest coffee bar) says "I was born here, I grew up here, I do not want to die here".  He is 23. Fantastically good humoured, remarkably handsome, and of good spirit.
"Why," he was asked, "can you not make this place a home?"
Good question! They have lived here for six decades.
His reply?
"It is like living in a bus station!"
The image, it seems to me, is profound. It is not a home; it is a place of transit.
"We live on top of each other"
Though after 5 or more decades the temporary dwellings have been replaced, he says,
"We hear everything, we see everything, we smell everything!"
That's what seems to communicate the plight of the refugee. There is simply no privacy. Even bodily odours are shared.
He was remarkably upbeat. Convinced that the future  lies in education, that this cannot and will not go on. He himself had a powerful humour which reminds us that the human spirit is amazingly resilient.
What ever else is going on between Israel and Palestine my earnest desire, prayer, what ever it is ...is that people not lose the spark that enables them to survive.

Throughout much of opportunistic Israel we had shared cups of coffee. We addicts fell by the wayside if we didn't have our fix.
We had paid 10 shekels...about the going rate by Aussie standards...though Fr K our guide and mentor had joked that this was "far, far too much to pay for coffee". We didn't mind it helped the economy and after all we are fat and rich.
Here in the real heartland of poverty, the refugee camp we were only charged 2 shekels!!!
There is something about the honesty of desperation that refuses to exploit even the fat cats of the west. 
I was moved by this and wanted/want to give them more than the pathetic cents we gave them. But they wanted our ears more than our dollars!

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