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the Friend INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS VOL 170 NO 6
3 Thought for the Week:
Faith in action Janet Scott 4 News 5 Meeting for Sufferings:
News in brief 6-7 Meeting for Sufferings:
Advocacy 8-9 Letters 10-11 Escaping victimhood Tim Newell 12-13 Quakers and creation:
Going to a ‘better place’? Stuart Masters 14 A shift Sonja Rose 16 q-eye: a look at the Quaker world 17 Friends & Meetings
Cover image: A view of the clouds from above. Photo: Andres Rueda / flickr CC See pages 12-13.
Quaker Tapestry at Ely
The ‘unique threads that Quakers have embroidered in the social fabric of this country’ were referred to by Mary Archer, who performed the official opening of the Roadshow on 30 January. She was speaking to about 230 people gathered in the nave of the Cathedral, and later in the Lady Chapel.
The tapestries are ‘an amazing description of church action in social matters’, which challenge members of the Church ‘to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk’, said Alan Hargrave of Ely Cathedral in his welcoming talk.
Among those present was vibrant ninety-nine-year-old, Margaretta Playfair, from Cambridge, who vividly recalled working on several of the panels, including those about Conscientious Objection, Health and Swarthmore. See also page 16.
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the Friend, 10 February 2012 Thought for the Week
Faith in action
Touring a red light district and lunching with a group of women, most of whom are prostitutes, is not my normal way of spending a day. I was in India and visiting a church that had been started by a Quaker. It has a particular mission to the Devadesi (temple prostitutes). Some of the work is to do with controlling HIV/AIDS: one twelve-year-old girl present had been born with HIV. She has access to food and medicine and is being counselled to help her avoid prostitution. Another, very important, aspect of the work is taking care of the daughters of these women by removing them, with the consent of their mothers, to a safe home in another town. They are brought up there, sent to school and helped to find careers and homes.
The need to be at a distance comes from the social pressure on these women and girls. If they have been dedicated to the temple at a young age, relatives and neighbours think that a curse will fall on the whole community if they do not enter the life. I met a girl who had not been able to get away. She had been forced into prostitution at the age of thirteen. A year later she had already suffered a miscarriage. Another woman, now married, had been kidnapped from the home by relatives when she was thirteen but had managed to make her way back.
The home currently has sixty-three girls and young women. They are aged from three to twenty-two and the oldest is finishing a degree. The home becomes the girls’ family. Their life is simple and well-regulated with school, study time, worship, meals and time for play.
Each girl has her own clothes and possessions and a space to keep them in the dormitories. They launder their own clothes, with the older girls each taking responsibility for a younger ‘sister’. There is a happy, cooperative atmosphere and much laughter. It was interesting to see when a game was being played that the older girls protected the younger ones and made sure that they were included.
Another visitor to the home was an American business man who had been shocked, when travelling in Cambodia, to be offered a young girl as a prostitute. Instead of ignoring the whole thing, he began to investigate the situation. He now runs a charity, which has set up eight homes, in Cambodia and Thailand, for girls in danger. It is in partnership with four other homes giving some financial support. He has now moved to Cambodia, lives in one of the homes and uses his business skills and contacts to see that everything runs well and that high standards of care and accountability are maintained.
Both the Indian Quaker and the American call themselves evangelical Christians. It is their faith in the message of Jesus Christ that enabled them to see a wrong and to answer an inward call to follow him in seeking and saving the lost. They may not be able to change the world – but, one by one, young lives are being transformed.
Cambridgeshire Area Meeting the Friend, 10 February 2012