Wednesday, July 18, 2012
This weekend I leave for Malta, island where Paul was shipwrecked, that little speck on the map down by the toe of the boot of Italy! Ready to take another virtual journey?
What I imagined as a sort of desolate biblical wilderness rock with some picturesque fishing boats attached is actually a densely packed, wealthy playground, with tourism being a cornerstone of their economy. As I've gotten to know Malta a bit more in the past few years (through friends on teams going each summer), a desire awakened to go myself, to see this incredibly small but strategic island. I wanted to see the cave where Paul got shipwrecked, learn about the Knights of St. John, Valleta, (the capital), and discover a bit more about the house of prayer there, praying for the whole Mediterranean Basin, and the refugees...
Malta is often in the news regarding the plight of immigrants or refugees arriving in regular waves on the island, or fished out of the waters after their makeshift boats swamp or sink. Whatever country they are fleeing from, in hopes of a better life in Europe, they are stranded; people without paperwork, they can go nowhere.
Two recent articles highlight the plight of these people: "Illegal Immigrants Arrive" & "More Migrants Rescued." Can you imagine giving birth on one of these journeys, then arriving in a foreign country to enter a refugee camp? I can't believe she's still smiling!
You can see from the comments on the news links that this is a very hot issue on the island. These people are not loved or wanted. Once they arrive it is extremely difficult to ever leave because very few countries want them.
So, once again, I find myself on the road...on my way with others to work with art therapists, in three refugee camps, beginning on the day of arrival...wondering how that works in jet lag, ignorance and suffocating heat. Hmmm....wonder if I'll still be smiling! But imagine I'll be inspired by these marginalized ones, and sleep will be sweet when I get it!
Malta is historically pivotal for a number of reasons, which I'll get into as we arrive...