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The View From Here

We are now in Lent, which is a good time to think about journeys. My son is currently studying for his Higher History, and one of the topics they are looking at is the Highland clearances – that period of Scottish history where people were forcibly removed from the land, often to make way for more profitable sheep.

I went back and re-read our report from a few years ago, “Becoming Human Together,” as it so vividly depicts the experience of the crofters. ‘Old men and women, too feeble to walk, were placed in carts; the younger members of the community on foot were carrying their bundles of clothes and household effects, while the children, with looks of alarm, walked alongside. When they set forth once more, a cry of grief went up to heaven, the long plaintive wail, like a funeral coronach, was resumed…the sound seemed to re-echo through the whole wide valley of Strath in one prolonged note of desolation. (The Crofter’s Trail, David Craig, Birlinn, 2010, p27.) 

Take out the words “coronach,” and, “Valley of Strath,” and that description could hold true today for Ukraine, Sudan, South Sudan, Gaza, Israel, and so many other places. Across the globe, people are on the move and that often goes hand in hand with lament. 

We were recently awarded a grant from the Scottish Government’s Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF), to support families from Sudan living in a refugee camp in South Sudan. Many thousands of people have crossed the border since the conflict in Sudan started in April 2023. Cash assistance for 4000 of the most vulnerable people will enable them to buy food and essentials.  

As the invasion of Ukraine ticks into its third year, millions of people remain displaced.

Another grant from the Scottish Government enabled us to work with Heritage Ukraine to repair homes and water sources, as well as giving people seeds to grow food.

Recent reports have estimated that as many as 1.9million people, or 85% of the population of Gaza, have been displaced. Our partners are responding as best they can to provide the people of Gaza with the essentials in what are very difficult circumstances.

CA is also supporting Israeli partners to cope with the escalation of violent conflict through the provision of bespoke trauma and wellbeing support. We are calling on the UK Government to work for a permanent ceasefire, without which, the foundations cannot be laid for a sustainable and just peace, in which all people in Israel and Palestine can live in security and with dignity.  

Lent is a time of wilderness and lament, but as we approach Good Friday, we do so sure in the knowledge of the Hope of Easter Sunday. Lament is not just a time of grief, but rather it is a plea to God for justice.

As we come into the spring and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, let us keep on keeping on as we journey towards a just peace for all.

Val Brown  

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