We drove from the French Alps to Milano Italy and once again spent the night with our friends Juan and Talissa Gil (Thanks again you guys!). From there we braved the city streets of Milano (a nightmare for Megan) and flew from Bergamo to London England. After a half dozen bus, train and tube changes we arrived at our new home in Southall in the north -west sector of London. Southall is a very diverse community that hales as one of the largest Indian Sikh populations outside of India/Pakistan. We thoroughly enjoyed the colors, sounds and smells of life in this community. We even ate lunch at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabba, the largest Sikh temple outside of India. They serve free meals to anyone who enters, no questions asked. Our kids may have them rethinking that policy; Emma and Sarah Jane both went back for seconds on the lentils and rice pudding while Sam made a full three trips through the food line.
Over the past three years we have been working with a conservation organization called A Rocha (Portuguese for The Rock), and here in Southall they have their UK offices. The focus of A Rocha can best be described as “a Christian nature conservation organization… with projects working in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australasia. The projects are frequently cross-cultural in character, and share a community emphasis, with a focus on science and research, practical conservation and environmental education.” (quoted from their international website at arocha.org) We enjoyed the ARUK community while we: worked in the garden, helped out with some mailings, installed attic insulation, led a group of students on a field trip at Minet Park (their local project), and assisted with an environmental club at a local elementary school. Sam even rescued the pond at Minet Park from a trolley (that’s a shopping cart for all of you back in the US). We spent many long hours discussing the urgent need to make radical changes in our consumer lifestyles in order to effectively begin the task of reversing decades of environmental and socio-economic degradation around the world. While the word urgent was never actually uttered, it is the overall sense that has been growing in me throughout our trip. Our world is a wonderful place, but without immediate care there is much that will go wrong in the not-so-distant future. People seem to react to the message of environmental crisis in different ways. Some choose to ignore it completely. I tend to believe this is because recognizing there is a problem demands a response. Which then gives rise to the next type of response, to recognize the problem but be so overwhelmed by the immensity of it that nothing is done. It can be a pretty hopeless outlook. Which brings me back to A Rocha. Here we find hope in what can be done. I have attached a video of theirs that introduces the need and their approach to solutions. Check it out.
It has been the perfect way to end our journey: a time for reflection, challenge and plans for action. After leaving the A Rocha UK center we discovered this wonderful quote from Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Our world feels less scary, more inviting, and much bigger than we ever imagined. It’s really quite wonderful!
A Rocha International