The craziest part of the story about the bike race in Arad over the weekend is that it was held at the visitor center of the forest just behind Alfa where we are working daily. All of 500m track through the forest separated the illegal rubbish dump, come refugee camp, from the shiny visitor centre, flash mountain bikes, and nice cars. Not to say that any of this is wrong, just that the stark juxtaposition wasn’t lost on me. A bizarre shift from when I was there Friday morning, and again Saturday morning.
If I rewind about three weeks now, to when we took a road trip to Beius where a group of people have been working with Habitat for Humanity since 1996. On the drive over there one of the guys in the car challenged Lee to get the word “juxtaposition” into one of the meetings throughout the day (now you see the tenuous link between the two stories). Habitat are an international charity that aim to enable people to build their own affordable housing, with a big emphasis on creating and sustaining community. For example, only being eligible to receive a house when you have worked a certain amount of time on another persons house is one of their big conditions.
We had taken the trip to discuss the possibility of some kind of collaboration between us at Networks and Habitat, for some kind of project in Arad. They already have access to a piece of land in Arad to build on, but for whatever reason have never managed to get anything off the ground. The whole day was very encouraging, the people we met with were very passionate and enthusiastic about a potential project, mixed a healthy dose of realism. It’s clear that there is a long way to go and some big hurdles to get over before we could get started, but that was the first step and we are already working on a proposal for a potential funder. It maybe a long way off, but the very thought of radically changing the lives of the people we are working with is an incredible one.
Of course this vision is far removed from the day to day work we have here, including weekly flour distribution and today handing out the easter parcels we received a few weeks ago. Meeting people in the place where they are at, showing compassion and trying to do the best we can for them with the means we have is more typical. Honestly this is never easy but it’s something I’m learning to love struggling with, and the more my language and relationships improve the better it gets, even if it doesn’t get any easier.
It feels like we are entering some very exciting and changing times here. I’m looking forward to a great summer, and all being well, committing to being here as we head into 2015.
Thanks for all your prayers and support!