“The men are all talking about this on the wings.” Here we are in prison and Will was telling me what he’d heard. He was on the Sycamore Tree victim awareness course but had had to miss Ray and Vi Donovan telling their story.  Of the assault on their two sons and murder of one of them,  Chris Donovan.  Will had heard all this second-hand, but it still amazed him.

Dartmoor therapyWhy?  Brutal assaults like on the Donovan lads are alas, not rare.  Forgiveness by victims isn’t unheard of.  What surprised Will and the men on the wings – was the Donovan’s willingness to come into HMP Slade and tell their story.  To tell it at length, sharing their sorrows and tears.  And then listen with warmth and compassion to the prisoner’s own stories.

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2131adf2-945a-453b-aa21-94eb453b7052.jpgIn light of the recent Haiti aid scandal and on-going questions over international aid, the Medical Director of Hospital HCBH, Dr Paul Toussaint, has written the below reflection.  It’s a longer blog than normal, but a very insightful reflection from the perspective of one of Haiti’s leading Paediatricians:

Charities work in many sectors: Water, sanitation, health education, human rights etc. But why so many organisations?  What are the results?  We are asking these questions perplexed.

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Embassy Visit

HHA team with UK Ambassador and Hospital leadership. Us in our DFID T-shirts. team work. no abuse. May 201

Orgies, sexual favours – all part of Oxfam’s 2011 Haiti crisis. And in South Sudan also.  We were in Haiti in this period too, and also help in South Sudan.  After the cataclysmic 2010 earthquake – Hope Health Action and The Baptist Hospital swiftly repurposed buildings to take in spinal injuries, and later cholera victims.  Working intensely with other agencies and of course, the Baptist Hospital, many lives were saved, though many many more were beyond our reach.  It was a desperate time.  And Oxfam, with its hugely larger funds, backed with UK-Aid was able to reach more. 

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Buried Giant.jpgKazuo Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant”.  Does it stir?  Will the earth quake as it breaks surface?  If you are looking for a literary Godzilla, go elsewhere. Ishiguro’s tales is set in England, after the Romans have left and the first Saxons have arrived.  It also is a canvas for memory, loss and forgiveness to be explored.  Easy to read – it is not a light read.  And like the travellers in the book, the allegories can readily lead you into forests with little light.

(This seeks to be a spoiler free review.)  The tale starts with an older couple, Axl and Beatrice, becoming unsettled in their village life, and setting off to find their son who had left home years earlier.  It is very early on that the land feels under a mist that smothers memory.  Recollections of the past are in fragment only, if existing at all.  As time passes and encounters on the road occur, are shards of the past snatched back.  Read the rest of this entry »


Many exiles because of him

Aliens or Exiles?  As Christians, we readily have a sense alienation from the world around us.  The moral fog, the social and political loss of direction, the cultural confusion.  And in sense – we do not belong here.  But we confuse being an alien with being an exile?  We criticise the way of the world about us, and that bolsters our own perspective? Yet at the cost of stealthily boosts self-righteousness.  We gripe.  Yet, don’t we have a hope, elsewhere?

The Bible talks of Aliens, and of Exiles.  Alienation?  Marx used the term to talk about the worker having no ownership and personal sense of value in his/her work.  Alas, still with us in the 21st century as was in the 19th.  Cultural alienation – Durkheim’s “Anomie”, the loss of connection with each other and the breakdown of common understanding norms, values, etc.  Easily a greater plague in the 21st century then when he wrote in the 19th.

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Balloon Dog.jpgMcMafia loves the art world.  And so do the other super rich (see my The Face that haunts us still).  Billions (of people) still tremble, but a few splash billions. Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Orange), a giant steel replica of a dog in the shape of a stretched balloon, was bought for $58 million by a New York collector.  He didn’t even get it for the art.  He shunted the piece into his New Jersey warehouse – “anticipating future resale at a profit”[1].

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Ferry.jpgHotel staff knock on the door, but we are changing.  No this is not a convenient moment.  Ah, this will only take a moment.  Comeback later. But I just want  …. And so on.  That there was an awkward exchange of words in this hotel was not uncommon.  Trip Adviser reported several people commenting that the staff were rude.  But that is so easy to say and there’s no context.  And damaging to what I thought was a good hotel and good staff.

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