Tuesday, April 16, 2013

United Through the Gift of Art

by Gertrudes Samson
    Columban Lay Missionary, Britain 

In my ministry at St. Chad’s Sanctuary, I sometimes run sessions on ‘Recycled Craft’. I believe that craft making is fun. It is a great hobby. It can also keep the mind rested from thinking about problems. It is also a good bonding activity and an opportunity for people to talk about anything while doing it. I have seen people smile as they try to create things and realize they have artistic talents.  In addition, homemade crafts could give people the opportunity for extra income if they sell items and it could also save them money as they wouldn’t need to buy gifts. It could also put smiles on the faces of people who would receive these as gifts, knowing that these were personally made with love. As a Columban Lay Missionary, this allows me to advocate for the integrity of all creation.

I would like to tell you about a session I ran recently. At last year’s annual Justice and Peace Network Conference in Swanwick, I found two cloth bags at the Fair Trade Exhibit with prints that captured the simple message I wanted to use. One carried the message, ‘Recycling is Fun’ and the other had a picture of a fish saying “PLASTIC BAGS – Plastic bags on the shore, Plastic bags on my door, Plastic bags in the sea, Plastic bags – THEY HURT ME!” Though the English language of most of the participants was limited, this did not deter me from getting my message across. The session also touched my heart when I heard one of the participants saying, “Thank you God for my new knowledge”. I felt blessed to hear that. One of the participants even said, “I will bring it home to my wife; she wanted to attend too but she got sick”. Then he asked me to help him cut letters N and R to stick to the two crafts he made. He said it was the initials of their first names. I am sure his wife was happy to receive what he had made.

Sometimes people do no want to try craft making, thinking that materials cost a lot. But if we use recycled materials, the cost would be very minimal . Using recycled materials help us preserve the integrity of creation through the reduction of waste. In the craft session I led and attended by six people, I only spent less than £2. And there are still around 75 percent of those materials left for another session. What did I buy? Only a pack of 20 pipe cleaners which cost  99p and a small roll of double sided tape which cost £1. All the rest were recycled materials such as plastic cover caps (from liquid laundry soap, shampoo, spray cans, vitamins containers, etc.), clean empty plastic milk containers, used cleaned plastic bags, used Christmas crackers, used ribbons from cakes and gifts, cardboard from boxes of cereals, plus some other materials and simple tools that are usually found in our homes.

Britain, Columban Lay Missionaries Gertudes Samson (R) and Rosalia Basada
My ministry at St. Chad’s Sanctuary mostly involves work with asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants. As I journey with these people, I realise that most of them are victims of war, violence, and injustice from various countries in different parts of the world. According to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,  being given asylum is a human right.  For me, it is part of giving them justice after all the traumatic experiences they have been through. What we are trying to do here also is to make them feel at PEACE in this new found country which is now their home.

 I believe that everything that we do here in England as lay missionaries, no matter how simple or small it might be – like leading a ‘Recycled Craft’ session – is a contribution towards WORLD PEACE AND JUSTICE.  Hopefully, groups of asylum seekers and refugees will experience a glimpse of justice and peace here. And when the time comes that they will be able to return to their own country, they can share and spread that experience of peace and justice too, even in the midst of diversity. These are like small ripples in the ocean that will hopefully create a big tide someday.

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