Now I have to backtrack a bit to yesterday. We had a free day until 4pm. I chose to stay home and work on my entry about Ahmad, the dancer. At 4pm, when all had returned, Viola did a first presentation for us about the situation in South Sudan, where she lives. The situation is pretty dire, many tribes, civil war, lots of violence. She talks about how rebel soldiers came to her house with guns and she wasn't sure they'd survive. She relates this all in her soft manner, but she is a powerful force, determined to try better her country by educating people and continuing to work for peace. She works to educate young people about use of the internet as a tool for peace, among many other projects in which she’s involved. She teaches at a university there, although she hasn’t gotten paid in the last five months. Nevertheless, she is the source of support for her mother and one of her sisters. Some quotes from her presentation – “ If there’s no love, there’s no peace." " If there’s no peace, there’s no life.” When we ask her about how she can still smile after all the terrible things her family and her country have endured, she says, “I smile because I’m still alive.” She’s receiving news from home that things are worse, more violence in the area where her family lives, and she’s clearly worried. She’s going home next week.
Yesterday evening, we went to the R0g organization, the one that brought Viola here to join our group and participate in other projects with them. Stephen Kovats, the founder, with his wife, had met Viola in South Sudan. Our group met with a number of people with an interest in South Sudan, or refugees, or related areas. It was a remarkable gathering of knowledgeable and committed people. Viola did a second presentation about her work. Saskia did a presentation about our project. Then we hung out for a while and socialized. They’d provided a nice spread of finger food, fruit, veggies, dips, cookies, some kind of vegetable chips, some Indian hors d’oeuvres. And wine, and three kinds of waters. Bubbly, not as bubbly, very bubbly. Germans are into bubbly waters. A surprise to many in the group when that’s pretty much what we’d had the first days. I guess it had never occurred to Saskia that not everyone likes soda water. More for me!
We also met a Palestinian man, another refugee, who Saskia’s now invited to join us here with some of his friends in one of our few remaining available bits of time.
I’m going to stop here, and post some photos on facebook from our walk today. I mostly took pix of the various forms of house architecture from around this area of Berlin, Lichterfelde. It’s one of the more wealthy parts, suburb in feel but part of the city proper, about a half hour by s bahn, or u bahn. There’s old villas beside modern houses and apartment buildings,many styles. Lots of flowers. Some old estates were subdivided into smaller plots when housing was at a premium after the war. Some old mansions were converted into apartments and now some are condos. I gather that not much in this area on the outskirts was bombed.
Tomorrow I hope I'll be up early enough to edit the entry about Ahmad Joudeh, the dancer. I have to correct a couple of the links, but meanwhile, it’s up there for you to check out, complete with links to the Dutch news pieces, a few you tubes, and a couple of his performance a few years ago on So You Think You Can Dance, and a couple of magazine articles. I think the two Dutch nieuwsuur video pieces are the most interesting and moving, although I think I mislabeled a couple of the links. And then there are the two other stories about the Nansen Award Winners, Joannes Klas and Maryluz Schloeter Paredes. The one on Parades has been translated into Spanish by Ceci, my Mexican compadre (comadre?) , and I believe the other one has been translated into a couple of languages, not sure which ones by people in the group. Did I tell you how many languages are represented between the seventeen of us? Twelve.