Sunday, December 18, 2011

The season of Peace and Goodwill

As the December edition of Eaglescliffe's Focus leaflet hit the doormats around the ward I started to receive phone calls from people offering coats for the Donate a Coat appeal.  For those readers who don't live in the ward or don't read Focus, this is an appeal which the Salvation Army is making this year with Daybreak TV for warm winter coats to give to the homeless and otherwise vulnerable people who turn to them for help. Alan, Lesley and I decided that this year we were going to publicise the appeal and offer to collect them if people couldn't deliver themselves.  The results have been humbling - we have several bags of coats to take in to Stockton tomorrow thanks to the generous people of Eaglescliffe.
The news headlines this morning were dominated by the last US troops leaving Iraq, but by lunchtime that had been ousted by the death of Vaclav Havel, perhaps the best known citizen of the Czech republic.  A man who led his country to embrace democracy, look beyond its borders and become a fully functioning part of Europe - not a bad record for anyone!
Sadly, the news from further afield has not been so positive - still problems in Egypt as some people feel the military leadership is obstructing the passage to democracy with others thinking it's a benign influence bringing stability; even bigger problems in the Congo where people who have been returned by our government which claims that it's safe to return are being arrested and in some cases tortured.  Let's hope that having a first hand witness report on the situation encourages the government to realise that the country isn't yet safe to return refugees to.
So at a time when we celebrate the birth of a child who became a refugee with his parents the world presents a mixed picture.  Would that the generosity shown in the Donate a Coat appeal were shown right across the country and the world. 

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