These thoughts from the recent Prayer Vigil begin with images and end with details of the CAFOD/DEC appeal.
On 19th September I attended just one hour of the Prayer Vigil for Peace. The focus of this hour was the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Most of the hour was spent in silence, but a few images were projected, offering – for anyone who needed it – a visual focus on the subject. First, there was a picture of apparently insubstantial Rohingya dwellings being burned by soldiers. Then another picture showed refugees standing waist-high in river water, hoping to be helped aboard a waiting boat. In this picture, I noticed a young woman carrying a child, not looking at the boat, but looking back, perhaps trying to spot another member of her family. A third picture showed a small group of refugees squatting barefoot on the soil and protected by what seemed to be strips of plastic sheeting. The expressions on their faces appeared to reflect their plight.
And yet, as I gazed at the photos I found that they did not have the impact on me that I might have expected. I pondered why this should be and wondered whether I have become complacent in the face of yet more hardship occurring in a far-away place. At this point I realised that I needed to imagine all of this happening to me, in order to begin to comprehend what it means to the Rohingya people. I began to think, and these were some of the thoughts…
Whilst I pictured those things I knew of course that I could also imagine much worse to come. I was also comfortably aware that my imaginings were, thankfully, not real for me, however real they are for those distant people.
None of this was quite what I had expected to be thinking about during the prayer vigil, and I know that my simple imaginings represented little of the plight of people forced at gunpoint from their homes, and worse. But perhaps in a small way I made a start.
Details of the CAFOD/DEC appeal for funds to alleviate the plight of the Rohingya refugees now in Bangladesh may be found by following this link: