Log-book: March 1998
|Suicide or hope||Europe behind barbed-wire|
|Light for everyone||A meeting in Bruges|
|Partenia: some figures|
Suicide or hope
I visited 26 year old Thierry in hospital, he had tried to end his life. I know him and am surprised that in his despair he felt driven to attempt suicide. He had reached such a low-point in his life, deceived in a love-affair, unemployed and a bleak future had driven him to this.
Thierry saw no good reasons to go on living, and in France today many feel the same despair. The number of people who committed suicide exceed the numbers killed in road accidents last year.
As I look at Thierry who is gradually regaining a taste for life a poem by Paul Eluard comes to mind, and this I offer all those whose lives are filled with doubt:
Europe behind barbed-wire
The author of a book with this title invited me to a discussion organised by Librairie "l'Harmattan". The subject matter is in my opinion extremely relevant, as more and more reception centers appear, in airports and harbours, where refugees are held in quarantine. We do not allow these people to come to us, and if they do we lock them up.
Without judgment, their freedom taken away and their future hanging on an administrative decision they wait. Their fearful waiting does not seem to bother us much.
Gaining access to such a place is not easy. There is much secrecy to overcome, and when I was eventually allowed access I saw things that I will not quickly forget. Mainly young people, cut off from the outside world, crowded together with fear and insecurity, it is not surprising that suicide is increasing there too.
The travellers who daily come and go see nothing of this other world.
Light for everyone
Unemployed, trade unionists and other activists occupy the foyer of the EDF (Electricité de France) headquarters. I am among them.
They demand: that the practice of cutting-off electricity to those familys in arrears be stopped, counting cards and devices that restrict usage should be withdrawn, and the ending of repressions against EDF employees who refuse to cut-off electricity.
8 million people in France are living in poverty. Given the fact that many cheaper apartments are equipped with all manner of electrical devices, electricity has become one of life's necessities. To cut-off the electricity is part of the process of cutting people off from society too.
Is it not time that the state guarantees everyone access to energy?
The board of EDF announces its willingness to receive a delegation. The first step has been taken.
A meeting in Bruges
To do work of the church here in Flanders, if only for a few hours, fills me with a sense of well-being.
I find myself among responsible, free and forward-thinking Christians, who represent for me the mature people of God. Together we are the church.
Although amongst them are people to be found who must suffer in this church and are disheartened, others feel discouraged but do not despair.
I give thanks to God and reflect on the words of the apostle Paul:
"Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (First Letter to the Thessalonians 1,3).
PS: Partenia some figures, 1997
Total number of pages published monthly on the WEB last year: 175
Total number of pages presented in seven laguages on the WEB last year: 63'875
Total number of visitors last year: 92'000
Increase of visitors last year: 22'000
Monthly average of visitors: 7'660
Number of e-mail messages received by Bishop Jacques Gaillot: 2'300
Number of e-mail messages received by the Webmaster: 346