For us this week was dominated by four days of meetings up at Les Courmettes, with a gathering of many people from A Rocha, including founders Peter and Miranda Harris, and Paul Jeanson, whose vision and determination has driven the Courmettes project this far. It was a profoundly encouraging time, with both a real sense of progress having been achieved and a promise of much more to come.
The high point was a meal with well over twenty people. There were a number who have been involved with A Rocha for many years, and when Chris referred to us and the Harrises as les anciens combattants there were nods of agreement which made us feel both respected and rather senior. Yet if we represent the past, the future was well represented, with some excellent young people. We are so happy that there are currently four young volunteers working at Courmettes. They are from a wide range of backgrounds, and at the meal we counted up at least six nationalities and probably about eight languages.
Although we did a lot of picking up and delivering to the airport, actually we didn’t have awful lot to do. We did get out for a good walk and it’s lovely to see the blossom coming out. A high point was yet more vultures; a volunteer doing the serious birdwatching counted over 60 on Sunday.
Of course for too many people across the world the week was dominated by the murderous and nightmarish plane crash only 60 kilometres to the north. One of the curious features of modern travel is that any incident involving a major airline is as much an international event as a local or regional one. The only obvious effect with us other than a few more helicopter flights than usual seem to be that some training flights of the firefighting Sécurité Civile appear to have been rerouted over the Courmettes area.
Finally a book plug. Our old friend Chris Naylor has published a book on his, and his family’s experiences in Lebanon during which he pioneered and led the A Rocha project in there. It’s called Postcards from the Middle East (Lion Publishers and find it on Amazon UK). We haven’t finished it yet but it’s thoughtful, intelligent and extremely well written. And it’s particularly valuable at a time when caricatures and negative images of the Arab world are all too common. A disclaimer though: we are featured in the book. Anciens combattants indeed.