Saturday, January 28, 2017

How a chat with a waiter stirs the soul - about Trump Refugees Life Experiences

This week Mrs Beautiful and me called in to eat Pizza in a popular chain restaurant.

As I often do -I asked the waiter“Where is your accent from?”

He had already been chatty & warm.
So he entered a guessing game with us.

Greek - NO
'Close' he says -
'Albania' I say?

and I immediately said
“You yanee person e-bukoo”
(ju jeni një person i bukur  - in real Albanian)
(You are a beautiful human person - in English)

As with everyone I speak to in their own language
he was impressed and asked me where I had learned that,
my only Albanian, and I conversed with him. 

I spoke about when I was at
Romford YMCA - back in the day
the horrific Kosovo War 1998/99
resulted in human slaughter
and many Kosovan refugees fleeing for their lives
and how we welcomed them into our community -
giving them of our best & learning so much from them.

I was tutored in how to say 'ju jeni një person i bukur'
when they had slowly learned the English language.

I told him about the Albanian owned 'Koha Cafe' in central London
and he knew of it !!
I told about the basement venue I had used several times
and he knew of it !
and when the Albanian Ambassador presented me with
the statue (below) - their most famous hero,
as a thank you for offering shelter & being a friend of Albania,
whose name I always forget !
An honour indeed.

A beautiful exchange with a stranger - now friend !

Then - you know what he said?

He spoke about Trump and Putin.
“I am worried" he said ……
and talked about that savage war returning if Putin 
was given the freedom to dominate &  eventually re-occupy their nation again.
The Serb oppression was returning into his bloodstream.

I understand that several neighbouring countries around Russia 
are worried that their land may become occupied again.
As with Russian speaking Ukraine - 
as Hitler did with German speaking Poland……..

This morning I read this post by Julie 
who came to work with us from the USA.

Now she is a Mum and wife and passionate about human rights -
passionate about the womens’ march a week ago - and LIFE !

She writes from Chicago ………..


Back in the late 90s I lived and worked at a 150 bed YMCA youth hostel just outside of London. 
Part of my job was managing the resident program. 
We hosted many young refugee men from Kosovo as it was the height of the Kosovo War. 
Every morning these men would wake up, go to the computer lab to communicate with family 
to find out who was still living and who had been killed the night before. 

They did not speak English but that didn't matter. 
You don't need someone to interpret grief and despair 
when you watch a grown man silently sob into his coffee cup. 
The translation is the same in any language. 

Lessons in compassion.
I learned right away that 
a) these young men did not want to be here. 
Yet, where they wanted to be was no longer their home, 
it was a shattered war zone. 
And b) they were silently humble and grateful to be safe. 
To be alive. 
To be welcomed.

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. 
That alone break my heart. 
Yet here we are. 2017. 
We are leaving humans to die based on religion.
 Turning a blind eye. 
Holding up a big f-you and move along sign. 
While our government sits back high fiving another "win".

All I know is that I always trust my gut. 
If something feels bad, 
it's because it is bad. 
This is no longer 'not normal' it's truly heartbreaking.

'If you have more than you need build a bigger table – not a higher fence.