SBAS Goes Global

St Basil and All Saints goes global in this video.  Mim leads a local school, a peruvian school and our shared church congregation in this uplifting rendition of Halle Halle Halle.  A tune guaranteed to be in your head all day!


Mim's Peru Fundraising Event - Hotpot Supper

Friday 16th December, 7.30pm, St Basils Club £5pp

The funds from our hot pot supper this year will go to Eileen and Margaret at their clinics where they will use them to train more people, care for more of the many in need and buy toys and fund the kind of fun that children should have. 
Click here to find out more.

Mim Hodgsons Third Visit to Peru!

My visit this year to Peru was the beginning of another dream come true. In January 2010 I was searching for something on the internet. I now suspect that there may have been some intervention here ..... I came across a website which suggested to me it might be possible to form a Global School Partnership between a primary school in Peru and one here in the UK.

The first step was to attend a workshop up in Lancashire that very week! I had to get time off school and in exchange I invited a teacher from St Michael’s, Julie McElhinney to come with me. Fired up by the possibilities outlined at the workshop, I contacted Janet Simpson at St Basil’s to see if this might fit in with her global aspirations. It did and for the next 12 months Janet and I worked hard completing forms and jumping through hoops until eventually we were successful in obtaining a grant to fund a visit to two Fé y Alegría schools in Peru by UK teachers Janet and Julie and a visit to the UK schools by 2 Peruvian Fé y Alegria schoolteachers Carmen and Madeline. Janet’s hard work on the application was fundamental to our success in this project.

So, as project facilitator and interpreter, I had the excuse to go back to my Peru! I arrived a week or so before Janet and Julie, just to have a little bit of time, but not nearly enough, with my Sisters, my children from the clinic and my friends in the local parish Health Group.

The Global School Partnership project has been a huge success. However, aside from that aspect of this year’s visit, I’d like to share just one story which may help you to understand why I am in such awe of our marvellous SND Sisters.

Alex is a young taxi driver, from the shanty town of Delicias, whom the Sisters know and trust. Peru can be a dangerous place and small precautions are essential. So, you wouldn’t use an unknown taxi driver if you had a choice. From my arrival in Peru I had got to meet this young, ebullient Alex whose chat and sense of fun makes long traffic congested journeys, much more fun! He is strong, charismatic and most certainly has the gift of the gab. He brutally asked me how old I was so I felt honour bound to ask him his – though the question clearly couldn’t bruise his vanity as it had mildly wounded mine! We soon discovered that Alex is the same age as my sons and this knowledge immediately allowed us the privilege of a comfortable relationship.

Alex picked me up on the day I was meeting Janet and Julie at the airport – a fairly long trip – and out of the blue, Alex told me his story, how and why this apparently secure and well-adjusted young man, loves the Sisters with all his heart.

Unusually for me in a taxi, but feeling okay with Alex, I sat in the front – and we took off for the airport. I write “took off” advisedly as the only other person I know who drives a car at the speed of an aeroplane is one of my sons. In these situations I go back mentally to my first visit to Peru when I received an email from Kevin [Kelly]advising me to stop fearing for my life on the roads of Lima, but to make an act of faith each time I go out – I confess that until then I had never considered what that might mean – I soon learnt and now make that act of faith unfailingly!

So, having placed myself in God’s hands I tuned into Alex’s enthusiastic banter, joining in when there was a space. I can’t remember how or why but very soon after we left the house, Alex started to tell me his story. I listened with my ears and with my heart.

When Alex was 11 he had started drinking alcohol. He worked to support his costs. A year or so later he started taking drugs and with his strong physique, his raw fearlessness and devil may care attitude, he became somebody to reckon with and finally the leader of a vicious gang. He explained that being the leader of a gang means that you will do anything for your gang. In retrospect, he told me, he would have had no hesitation in laying down his life for one of his gang. In our culture that might be an easy thing to say because the reality is so remote. In Lima, life is cheap, death is common, it is the penalty paid for being poor, for being in the wrong place, it is a penalty paid shockingly often, so Alex wasn’t bragging, it is a truth of the street in a shanty town.

Alex drew my attention to the number of scars on his closely shorn head. They were knife wounds, he and his gang, all the gangs, carry knives and use them. He told me that he was always in trouble with the police. I know that he spared me details because he was aware of my innocence regarding his lifestyle.

Alex was expelled from school for his atrocious behaviour and attitude and he sadly remembered one occasion that the police came round to his parents’ home when his father, at his wits’ end, actually asked them to take Alex away.

Alex had missed years of schooling and now got a place at the Delicias Fé y Alegria school. The Fé y Alegria schools’ mission is to serve those in most need and provide those people with the best possible education. Alex was certainly in great need. He said that his first overwhelming impression was that his teachers actually cared about him. They cared about so much more than him just being another pupil. They wanted to know why his behaviour was so appalling; they wanted to know about him.

However, trouble continued and at 18 years old, after a particularly shocking incident, Alex was finally caught by the police, and taken into custody. He told me about being cuffed, about being beaten by the police, the humiliation and pain of being brutally searched, of being beaten more. Until his case came up he was living, sleeping, performing all human necessities in one tiny space. He told me from the very depths of his heart that this was a most terrible time. He told me that the brave, street-wise, astute young thug cried and cried like a baby. When his case came up, Alex got a 3 year prison sentence.

The emotions that Alex was going through telling me his story were very deep.

Alex was sent to a prison which holds 3000. He doesn’t know how or why because he could just as easily have been sent to another which holds many, many thousands more prisoners and he would have had a far more terrible time. One day, in the earliest days of his sentence Alex got a shock which still moves him to tears. He was told that he had a visitor and when he arrived to meet his visitor he was met by his headteacher from Fé y Alegria, one of my wonderful SND Sisters. He couldn’t tell me how suddenly and how completely overcome he was with shame, with love, with respect and more than anything with wonder. This Sister continued to visit him, to bring him work from school. Through her love, her hard work and through her enduring belief in Alex, she helped him turn his life around.

He never once saw a member of his gang. They completely abandoned him. They never lifted a finger to support him and so he learnt, such a hard way, what a loser he had been.

His second shock was a visit from his father, whom Alex also worships.

Alex came out of prison, went back to school, is now married and has settled. Although he doesn’t see those members of his gang who are still alive, there are still people for whom Alex would lay down his life. The Sisters know this. In fact I even nearly witnessed it another time when he was collecting us all from the city one night. It occurred to me that night, that although my Sisters generously share a lot with me, they hadn’t told me about Alex. I only knew that they trusted him. I understood then that they also respect him and for that reason, they wouldn’t just talk about how far this boy had come and the depths he had come from and of course they wouldn’t have told me, as he did, of how they had rescued him.

As Alex came to the end of his story he told me we needed fuel. His car has a gas bottle in the boot. We pulled into a garage and he got out of the car and asked the man on the forecourt for gas. He then looked at me as if I were a halfwit and told me to get out of the car during the gas-filling operation because apparently there is a high risk of explosion as the gas bottle is filled. One stands, safely, right next to the car!

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