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I’VE POSTPONED THE FIRST PHASE OF THIS PROJECT.

For medical and political reasons I’ve decided to postpone the first part of this project—refugees in Northern Europe— and conduct the second part—internally displaced refugees in Gaza and the West Bank—at a later date, which will most likely be September.

Urinary track problems constitute the medical reason. The political reason is learning two days before I was to leave home that my Gazan friend in Norway abruptly declined to participate. I was shocked and bewildered by this development; it caused me great, nearly unbearable stress. I had built the project around him thru many long Skype conversations. He was to have provided background and context, lead me to Palestinian refugees in Norway, help me interview them, and generally be the expert and link crucially required for such a project. Precisely what motivated his decision is unclear to me but could involve dangers to himself and his family in Gaza if he is publicly identified with my work. I’ve sought other colleagues in the countries I had planned to visit (Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, and Belgium) but was unable to find any with such short notice.

Embarking on this project could potentially leave me in a grave medical condition, in a foreign land, without support, distant from my home medical facilities, with no good way to locate refugees to interview and photograph, and without affordable housing.

To be clear: I postpone rather than cancel the first part of this project. For all the reasons I’ve stated, the timing is not right. I need to do more research and find networks that can facilitate my work. This could be summer next year. Meanwhile I do plan to conduct the second part of this project in the fall—photograph internally displaced refugees in camps in Gaza and the West Bank. And begin this as a photographer with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), remaining in Gaza and the West Bank for my project. I do not yet precisely know how this project will evolve; I am confident it will be eye and mind opening.

As disappointed as I am for this unexpected development, I am deeply grateful for your support of my work generally and this particular project—financial and otherwise. I feel confident that in some revised form I’ll be able to conduct the entire project.

To those who’ve financially supported my project, I’ve written separately.

 


 

This is my new project, an extension of the work I’ve been doing in Palestine since 2003.

But first words from my good friend in Gaza, Dr. Mustafa Al-Hawi (April 26, 2018). The context is my plan to enter Gaza in autumn 2018 (and Norway in summer 2018, two separate trips, as detailed in my funding appeal and project proposal) with a group teaching nonviolent methods to resolve conflict. Mustafa was to be one of the facilitators.

Al Hawi

Yesterday, I had the chance with Murad to meet with the senior officials of Hamas government in order to discuss your trip and permits to Gaza. As you are aware, the United States Government has decided to shift the U.S embassy to Jerusalem on May 15th and all Palestinian factions and local community are expecting a real deterioration of the political situation. Any how, I would like to let you know the following important notes:

  1. On May 15th, Hamas government, UN agencies and international organizations expect a serious armed confrontation along the border and properly develop to a real war. Since last week, UNRWA has been evacuation their international staff and the gave a deadline in May 15th as the last date to evacuate every body. This of course has an indicator that the situation does not look nice and may deteriorate seriously. For these reasons, our recommendation for the AVP [Alternative to Violence] team to postpone the trip minimum 4-5 months until the political situation become clearer.
  2. The workshops along the border [related to the Great March of Return] has been set up to be facilitated early next week as we already got the approval from the March Committee on the border.
  3. Also, this warning ( For the team to postpone the trip for 4-5 months) extends to the West Bank giving the demonstrations, strike and possible confrontations in Jerusalem and West Bank which may lead to killings and injuries of many people.
  4. We do believe that the situation is not clear enough for the AVP team to facilitate workshops during such horrible situation.
  5. For us the AVP Palestine, we will be committed to facilitate some workshops locally for the university students, NGOs and community groups.
  6. Skip: I go to the border quite often and watch whats going on, the majority of the people at the march of return are normal/civil society people and politicians, the majority are youth and teenagers. Also some old people go there and participate in different events. Youth conduct football activities, music, compositions, fly paper planes, toys and others burn tires. I have many of my relatives got injured and a Friend died last Friday.
  7. We are looking forward to the date that your people wake up and picture our cause as a real human rights and we deserve to live in peace, dignity and justice.
  8. Sorry friends for this news but this part of our commitment to put you on the exact situation and latest development.

So because of the ongoing Gaza border violence; the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the 70th anniversaries of both the Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe) and the independence of Israel, all three in mid May; plus the age-old conflicts between Iran and Israel, my plans to enter Gaza are uncertain. I hope to enter Gaza in the fall of 2018. However, I can easily get to Norway to locate and photograph Palestinian refugees there, with the help of my good friend, Ibrahem, himself a Gaza refugee, now living in Norway. I plan that trip for early summer 2018.

PROJECT

Gaza, 2006

The issues erupting from Palestine-Israel have troubled me for decades, as they have the world community. Mainstream media coverage tends to justify Israel’s positions. Currently and alarmingly the United States’ president and Israel’s prime minister are particularly close, heading largely right-wing governments. This does not provide hopeful context to create justice, peace, and security for the region.

For 15 years I’ve visited the region to document conditions, making many friends and colleagues among both Palestinians and Israelis. And I’ve photographed Palestinian refugees in camps in Gaza and the West Bank, but their diaspora extends worldwide, including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Western and Northern European countries, and the United States. Ibrahem, my dear Gazan friend now living in Norway, works with Palestinian refugees and has agreed to help me widen my project. With his help, I will locate, interview, and photograph Palestinians living in this distant and for them very different part of the world.

The project will involve two separate trips—to Norway early this summer (2018) to photograph Palestinian refugees and my friend Ibrahem, and to Gaza in the early fall.

I plan to enter Gaza with the help of the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) which trains people to use nonviolent methods, such as dialog, to resolve conflicts. In Gaza I will photograph these trainings, as well as the general situation there, including refugee camps—some 70% of Gazans are refugees from villages now in Israel. I will investigate how conditions differ between Norway and refugee camps in Gaza.

Many times in the entire region, many photos, writing, and movies later, I now wish to concentrate on refugees in Northern Europe and visit the Palestinians remaining in Gaza. I will broaden the constricted picture many Americans have (thanks to Israel-centric media) of the overall Palestine-Israel situation. A major lacuna: how do people forced from their homelands live?  Central questions are: how accepted are Palestinians by Norwegians, what services exist for refugees, how do they deal with the trauma they’d experienced in Gaza, what are their legal rights, and what are their hopes for return either temporarily or permanently to Gaza. *

I hope to contribute my small effort to resolving the conflict, fostering justice, security, equality, and freedom for all human beings in that troubled region.

SKIP SCHIEL

I’ve been a photographer, filmmaker, and writer for most of my adult life. Struggles for justice and peace in different parts of the world have been my main concentration.

While in South Africa in 1990 and then again 8 years later during one of several of my international pilgrimages, I began to understand the parallels between conflicts in South Africa and Palestine-Israel. Apartheid, an Afrikaner word meaning separation—which I interpret it as Separation with Hate—operates in various forms in both regions. In Auschwitz in 1995 I learned more directly about the holocaust, which helped propel the creation of the Israeli state. I was raised Catholic and imagined Jesus walking thru the dusty Holy Land with his disciplines. Thus grew my curiosity, leading to my concern about that region. And then finally in 2003, during the end of the Second Intifada (Palestinian Uprising), the year an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer ran over and killed Rachel Corrie as she protected a Palestinian home, I was on my way East. This began one of the most meaningful journeys of my life.

I’ve photographed widely in Israel and Palestine, many different populations, many different activities: Israelis training as first responders, Palestinians living in tents, Israelis walking and shopping in Jerusalem and Haifa, Palestinians studying at various levels and ages, and Israeli high school students learning archeology. I’ve explored all the areas of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza (except for the Sinai which is currently too dangerous to enter). For this project I will hone my focus: refugees inside Palestine-Israel and outside.

PALESTINIANS

Palestinians are one of the longest colonized populations—most recently in 1948 by Israel, meaning the occupation of the West Bank and later the siege of Gaza—and still living in diaspora. I have shown the reality of the matrix of control, walls and fences, checkpoints, permits, home demolitions, restricted roads, inordinate fines, deportations, targeted assassinations, leveling of entire neighborhoods, violent repression of nonviolent demonstrations, etc. As well as survival mechanisms, the family, faith communities, organizations, etc. Now I have the opportunity, thanks to my good Palestinian friend from Gaza in Norway, Ibrahem, to show more widely the consequences of colonization and emigration.

One in three refugees in the world are Palestinian. Nearly seven million Palestinian refugees live in some 14 countries, with approximately 4,000 in Norway, 7,000 in Sweden, and 9,000 in the Netherlands, countries I hope eventually to reach. (UN Refugee Works Administration and UN High Commission on Refugees)

28576934_15217320070_r.jpeg
Israeli mortar shell fired at Palestinian village in Gaza


After an attack by the Israeli military on a government building in Gaza

IBRAHEM IN NORWAY

Ibrahem and I began our friendship in 2004 when we were both living in Gaza City. He was attending college, and I was photographing for the first time in the Gaza Strip. On some of my 5 subsequent trips to Gaza—and thru Skype and email—we deepened our friendship. Around 2006 he immigrated to Norway, but Norway repeatedly rejected his pleas for asylum. In Gaza during the 2008-2009 violence (Operation Cast Lead) he left for Norway shortly after. Because of his problems gaining asylum in Norway Ibrahem re-entered Gaza a few months before the 2014 conflict (Operation Protective Edge). Thus he was in Gaza for the two periods of greatest recent violence. Though heartbroken at what he and my Gazan friends were suffering, I was unable to stand with them during these periods of intense bombing and ground assaults by Israel.

He worked with an agency in Gaza after the 2014 war when he provided humanitarian assistance to the postwar, internally displaced people (the majority of which are registered refugees) living in informal camps and underreported settings. He identified needs and coordinated services such as shelter, water, and sanitation, etc. After moving to Sweden in 2016 he worked to integrate unaccompanied minor refugees at the municipality level. Back in Norway, within non-governmental and community-based organizations, he remains engaged with the question of resettlement and integration of refugees.

Now finally able to make a new life for himself in Norway, Ibrahem holds masters degrees in international migration and ethnic relations and in social work. Fluent in Norwegian and English, Arabic is his first language. He will be a vital translator. As he provides me crucial background and contacts, we will work together, locating, interviewing, photographing, and filming Palestinian refugees.

LOGISTICS

Because the visits to Norway and Gaza are linked, I will begin this project as soon as the volatile political situation in Gaza subsides (until then Israel will probably not grant entry permits), planning to complete my work by the middle of 2019.  As in the past, I will create exhibits, slideshows, blogs, books, and movies. As with all my projects I will post photos and writings on my website and blog—dispatches from the field.

BUDGET

·      Airfare -$2000
·      Transport in country – $500
·      Compensation to colleagues in Norway – $1000
·      Contributions to organizations working for resettlement in Norway and other countries I visit- $1000
·      Food and lodging – $1500
·      Photographic equipment and supplies – $500
·      Post production—developing, editing, printing, slideshow making, etc –  $2000

GOALS

By presenting powerful images of life in the Palestinian diaspora and Palestine itself, I hope to build awareness and inspire action. The end result: beyond coexistence to a breath-taking sharing of the region, its resources, histories, luminaries, and potential. A true Holy Land.

28576934_15217388460_r.jpeg
Refugee camp in Gaza


Demonstration for human rights in Gaza, a Die-In in Boston, April 2018

* The plea of refugees in Gaza to return to their ancestral villages now in Israel is the central focus of the Great March to Return . It began on April 2, 2018, and will end on May 15. These dates mark two important historical events, Land Day when 6 Palestinians were killed as they attempted to return to their villages in 1976, and Nakba Day marking the beginning of The Catastrophe, or the Grand Dispossession in 1948. The violence of this effort—as of May 5, 2018, more than 40 unarmed Palestinians killed by Israeli snipers, and nearly 8000 wounded (700 of them children), many with life-threatening injuries, overwhelming the already stressed medical system—makes the Gaza portion of my plan uncertain. We may need to postpone entering Gaza until the fall.

SAMPLES OF MY WORK

Book  (Eyewitness Gaza)

Movie (also titled Eyewitness Gaza)


Photographs

Blog

TESTIMONIALS

Skip Schiel has been documenting the Palestinian and Israeli reality through photographs and journal postings since 2003. They contribute a better feel for the detailed texture of life in Gaza and the West Bank than any appearing in US media.   Schiel spends time where most journalists dare not tread, amidst ordinary Palestinians, sharing in the dangers and frustrations of their lives.

His work has been invaluable for my own. As a writer for a Buddhist publication whose parents were victims of the Holocaust, I try to convey a view of the conflict that differs from the US media’s, which obfuscates the injustices and sufferings inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel. Through his portraits of Palestinian men, women, and children striving to maintain ordinary routines despite harassment and attacks by Israel’s military, Skip reveals to us the true face of Palestinians.

—Annette Herskovits, Consulting Editor, Turning Wheel, the Journal of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Holocaust survivor

Skip Schiel photographs not only with his eyes but with his heart.

—Fares Oda, former staff American Friends Service Committee, Ramallah, West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territories

It saddens me to hear of the difficulties Skip is going through [finding an audience]. This is discouraging for us who are struggling in the situation. I never would have suspected that his pictures were not balanced. The first act of nonviolent resistance is to tell the truth. His pictures shared that. Let’s pray our dear friend does not give up!

—Jean Zaru, Palestinian Quaker and activist, Ramallah, Palestine

Skip’s creative ministry has challenged, informed and inspired our [Quaker] Meeting for many years. His work is a visual reminder to us of the importance of remaining faithful to our peace and social justice testimonies.

—Cathy Whitmire, Former presiding clerk, Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quaker)

You capture such powerful, symbolic moments in your work, that reach beyond the context they are in. I admire your brave tenacity and commitment to documentation of this struggle for justice.

—Marjorie Wright, filmmaker (Jews Step Forward) and activist

Your sensitivity to light and emotion is dramatic, the brilliant daylight framing the sad courageous eyes and brave determined expressions of our Gaza neighbors, as they face such a cruel, demented, and terrifying adversary.

I think you are very brave too, and I thank you deeply for shining a true light on [the situation].

—John Paulman

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM MY WORK IN GAZA


Relative of family member imprisoned by Israel


In a refugee camp trauma treatment program


A celebration at the Qattan Center for the Child


Limited free desalinated water


At the wall separating Gaza from Egypt, picking thru garbage

EXTRA INFORMATION


It is estimated that more than 6 million Palestinians live in a global diaspora.

(Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics)

The countries outside the Palestinian territories with significant Palestinian populations are:

Jordan 3,240,000
Israel 1,650,000
Syria 630,000
Chile 500,000 (largest Palestinian community outside the Middle East).
Lebanon 402,582
Saudi Arabia 280,245
Egypt 270,245
United States 255,000 (the largest concentrations in Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles (History of Palestinians in Los Angeles)-San Diego).
Honduras 250,000
Guatemala est. 200,000
Mexico 120,000
Qatar 100,000
Germany 80,000
Kuwait 80,000
El Salvador 70,000
Brazil 59,000
Iraq 57,000
Yemen 55,000
Canada 50,975
Australia 45,000
Libya 44,000
Puerto Rico est. 30,000
Greece est. 30,000
United Kingdom 20,000
Peru 19,000
Denmark 15,000
Colombia 12,000
Japan est. 10,000
Paraguay 10.000
Netherlands 9,000
Sweden 7,000
Algeria 4,030
Austria 4,010
Norway 3,825

(Wikipedia)

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At a kick off fundraiser, Jamaica Plain, August 2008

Sages are benevolent without trying,
trusted without speaking.
They gain without seeking,
succeed without striving.
They take naturalness to heart,
preserve ultimate reality,
embrace the Way,
and promote sincerity,
so the whole world follows them as echoes
respond to sounds;
as shadows imitate forms.
What they work on is the root.

—Wen-tzu

My photos

From my journals of August 16 & 31, 2008:

Walking yesterday [August 15] with Jim Harney, his life-partner, Nancy Minott, his long time friend, Carol W, my former partner, Louise D, and 2 of his friends, the bicyclist who appeared periodically, and Ray M, the former acolyte priest-in-training with Jim who was driving for the walk a short while. Jim appeared fairly healthy and strong—despite his terminal cancer—wobbling perhaps at the end of our 7 mile journey. We walked into New Bedford from the north, along route 18 or County Rd thru Lakeville, past a large lake on our left.

Jim, an activist and photographer about the Central American region for more than 30 years, is walking to attract attention to the human rights violations of undocumented immigrants in this country. On one of his most recent trips south he rode the dangerous freight trains going north, on roofs of boxcars, with folks from Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and other Central American nations. Some were fleeing danger generated by their political work (for human rights in their own countries ) and seeking better economical and political conditions—as did many ancestors of those of us now born into privilege in the US, forgetting our roots in immigration. Conditions in many regions have been exacerbated by US policies, especially globalization requirements that open markets to US products while driving down prices of locally produced goods such as corn.

That was one of many trips south Jim has made, probably his last given his physical condition, and now his walk thru parts of the East Coast resonates deeply with those many trips to witness and report. He’s hoping not only to spotlight the treatment of undocumented immigrants, but to link groups working together for human rights, churches, other faith communities, and political organizations among them.

Here’s how he states his motivation in a recent letter:

For years I’ve always believed that it’s important to walk with the crucified of the planet and here in Providence I had a chance to express my solidarity with them in front of the detention center-jail. The Feds have incarcerated close to 700 undocumented people in it: the population has doubled over the last year.

I believe in posibilidad-possibility and it happens on this walk as I get a chance to meet others who decide to join me. It happens with people organizing events, maintaining a website where people can journey with us in spirit.

—From a letter Jim posted on his blog, August 26, 2008

He writes also about how healing the walk is to him personally:

A joy to be walking in solidarity with undocumented people. It’s meant so much for me: it’s a healing experience. After every five-mile walk I feel so much better. I generally experience an ache in my jaw and in my neck but that usually doesn’t happen while I walk. Six hundred mg of ibuprofen followed by a pain reliever 15 minutes later frees me from the pain.

But it’s always a challenge for me to relate my own pain to that of others. A recent event that occurred at a detention center in Providence gives me ample ground to do just that. A man by the name of Hiu Lui Ng, a 34 year-old Chinese undocumented person died of cancer and those in this privatized detention center, better put a jail, ignored his pain: they felt he was kidding.

 

The day was partly cloudy, cool, perfect for walking. The tone was genial, talkative. Louise brought the Japanese Buddhist drum, we offered chanting, Carol sporadically joined us after we’d attempted to teach it. Jim seemed neutral about using it, answering when Louise asked him if he wished her to continue drumming, “I don’t mind.”

With Nancy in the conversation I told old Jim stories, about him feigning drunkenness one night, fooling me, and about slowly moving out once I’d moved in. When Nancy asked him why he moved out he wasn’t clear about why or how; at least he wasn’t willing to admit this in my presence.

Nancy is a sweet soul, very attentive and loving toward Jim. They call each other honey; she looked into a possible bleeding spot on his chest which seemed to be nothing serious. Near the end of our walk which had lasted from about 10:30 to about 1:30 with a brief break for a stand up lunch (worried about deer ticks and lyme’s disease) Jim looked to Louise like he might be tiring. “Ask him if he wants you to carry his fanny pack,” she implored. I demurred. Within 10 minutes we reached the day’s stop point, a liquor store where I’d parked the car.

Along the way we broke for blueberries from a farm stand. We met the proprietor, a gracious woman interested in Jim’s walk. We told her it was for undocumented immigrant human rights. We didn’t mention that the main New Bedford site he was walking to in several days was the factory where a large number of Mayans had been arrested within the last year, many of them jailed, brutally separated from their families, some possibly deported to Guatemala—fate to me at least unknown.

We bought several boxes of berries to share along the way. Rich, lush, juicy, organic berries helped make the day. $2 per pint box, vs. $4 in stores.

As we sat exhausted on the sidewalk of the liquor store we met another woman. We told her Jim was walking all the way to DC. We didn’t mention how uncertain the planning is, that at this moment he has no point person to do the gargantuan organizing. Jim is a man of deep faith; he radiates an air of detachment from methods and results. “Way will open,” as Quakers say, might be Jim’s mantra.

I made a series of photos—at the blueberry stand, by the New Bedford sign, looking at the map, Jim from behind. Louise explained the Massachusetts state seal: sword poised over the head of an American Indian.

Jim asked me to submit photos to a friend who has reinvigorated Jim’s languishing website. When I asked Jim what he was doing about his archive, he replied, “Nancy is taking care of that.” She’d helped him organize the exhibit for the Boston party in August, sorting thru 100s of photos, selecting and matting an assortment. Other than Nancy’s shepherding of his photos and journals, I’m not sure he’s made much provision for storage and use. At the party, Larry, Carol’s partner, told me he’s working with the couple to find institutions that might have connections with some of Jim’s issues, immigrant rights and globalization the main ones. Perhaps they will organize an archive.

Driving back thru the pounding rainstorm—we pulled over to wait it out, then chose to drive thru Boston on Blue Hill Ave and the Emerald Necklace, avoiding the crowd on I-93—Louise asked me what I might do if faced with terminal illness. Maybe a walk, I replied, for Palestinian rights, drawing on my community. Maybe a long trip to the Levant (Jim told me he’d been contemplating a trip to a Mayan region where many are sick and dying from lead poisoning because of lead mining and smeltering. This reminded me of the Japanese coastal town, Minimata, which I neglected to tell Jim about. W. Eugene Smith had photographed it with his then-wife, published a book which has been highly influential among photographers and environmental activists. Jim probably won’t make this trip because he is now subject to massive headaches, caused by the cancer in his head. He’s not sure of its exact location, and doesn’t feel he needs to know. The high altitude would exacerbate headaches.) Or maybe I’d watch old films by Chaplin and Keaton. Mix in some reflective time, a retreat, maybe at Agape in the hermitage. Or possibly something thru the Quaker community.

In one way, Jim is indeed fortunate: he’s able to anticipate more vividly his own death. And bring us along with him during this extended meditation, while highlighting important issues. He talks freely about his cancer, how the pain is returning and what he does about it, indulging his passion for homemade ice cream heedless of the cholesterol, and jokes about how green tea might inhibit the cancer’s growth.

One month later the party to celebrate Jim Harney. At Ray M’s house in West Bridgewater, attended by some 30 people, mostly over the age of 50, and a handful of Hispanics (from Columbia, Guatemala, Salvador) who were most often from either churches (one) or political organizations serving the immigrant population (3), plus a bunch of kids, mostly dark skinned. Despite Jim’s malady the occasion was celebratory and festive. Food was largely ethnic (rice and beans, Indian food, my little-eaten Palestinian olive oil and zattar), Jim spoke but not with his usual humor and pizzazz. I think most of us knowing Jim might have been alarmed by his appearance.

After his 10 minute talk he held an ice pack to his left cheek; his jaw, where I think the primary cancer is situated (metastasized to lung and other parts of head), pained him. He is using morphine. He laughed but with a laugh that might have been forced.

I noted to him his resemblance in a few ways to the Dalai Lama: warmth, compassion, serving others, and most physically his laugh. The Dalai Lama laughs constantly, in the most unexpected situations, and it is a hearty, believable laugh. Yesterday, Jim’s laugh was on the edge of believability—and for good reason.

The man is suffering. I asked, “How’s the plan going for reaching DC?”

“Oh, that’s out of the question. Now I’d like nothing better than to go back to Maine and rest for one week before continuing the walk.”

The walk is exhausting, as are the presentations he gives about the plight of immigrants. He looked shaky, weak, wan. I suspect Jim is dying more rapidly than some of us including him expected.

We passed around a loaf of freshly baked olive bread. As we broke off pieces someone suggested that we speak about symbol and metaphor—what does this breaking of bread represent? I mentioned the gospel story, apostles meeting the resurrected Jesus, not recognizing him until they’d broken bread together. Jim spoke to his love for and by his partner of 19 years, Nancy. He claimed he’d been wandering when he met her, and when he announced his mission and his perhaps then hopelessness about achieving it, she said, “Go for it.” As if to say, if this is your vision, I’m with you.

Isn’t this what some of us desire: a mate who completely supports our mission (assuming we have a mission)? Then what happens when both have missions? How do missions interleaf?

Jim and Nancy seem to have worked that out brilliantly.

Simon, Jim’s young nephew, just out of high school, has stepped in as primary organizer, along with Lois from Tucson Arizona who is working with immigrants. Both of them seemed befuddled about next steps, where to find housing mainly. They are staying with friends in Providence RI, but the welcome is wearing out. Louise is hoping to join them for a day, I’m probably not, since I’ve now committed to a 2-3 day visit with my daughter Joey and family in Brooklyn. Jim hopes to reach New Haven CT for a presentation.

Shortly after the breaking of the bread, a form of liturgy, I photographed Jim and Nancy together, his head against her face, his left hand holding the ice pack to his cheek, her left hand gently rubbing his leg. The Pietà?

Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to gird your loins and go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your arms, and someone else will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go. (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he [Peter] would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

—John, 21:18

From the walk organizers:

RE:  URGENT Call for assistance over the next month to help Jim Harney
complete his Walk in Solidarity with the Undocumented.

DATE:    September 2, 2008

This is a request for assistance in finding shelter and venues for Jim
Harney to meet people and talk about the plight of undocumented
immigrants in the US.    (See below for a brief description and links
about Jim and his Walk.)   Specifically, over the next six weeks or so
Jim Harney will be walking the next leg of his Walk in Solidarity with
the Undocumented, proceeding from Providence, RI to New Haven,
Connecticut.  We are seeking the help of individuals or groups who can
support  his walk by assisting us to find places where Jim can speak
to people about the problems faced by migrant workers in the US, and
help finding shelter for Jim and one or two others who are assisting
him with the walk through Connecticut.    He is eager to get the
message out and wants to identify opportunities to talk to people and
the media.

… from a recent press release …

The Longest Walk: Boston to New Haven in Solidarity with the Undocumented

For the past 20 years, ex-priest and photo journalist, Jim Harney has
traveled the Americas, North, Central, and South, documenting the
conditions of poverty and misery in which millions of poor peasants
and migrant workers live, sharing in story and photograph the dreams
and hopes for a dignified life.  He has traveled to El Salvador,
Columbia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and many other places, bringing
back stories and photos of people whose stories are seldom told in the
popular press, but whose stories touch the hearts of all who stop to
listen.  He has traveled the paths that migrants take on their quest
to find relief from unbearable circumstances.

The Maine activist is now walking from Boston to New Haven in
solidarity with the undocumented people in our society as well as
those traveling to the United States.  He has been stopping in towns
along the way, speaking to people about the global economy and why
migrants continue to make the dangerous journey north, risking life
and limb, to reach the United States.

This time, however, Harney is sharing the life-and-death drama of the
poor in a more personal way.  He has been diagnosed with terminal
cancer. This walk may be his last.

Referring to the thousands of migrants who cross our southern border
daily, Harney says “Our walk tastes of paradise in comparison to those
who are uprooted from their families and are walking treacherous
trails into a world of robbery, rape and murder.  U.S. economic
policies are producing the migrant flow, but we don’t see that.  Once
they are here in the middle of our society, we hardly interact with
them.  We don’t know their stories, hardships, anxieties and joys.
Nonetheless, the undocumented do the backbreaking work of providing
our food, keeping our infrastructure intact, cleaning our homes,
grooming our lawns.  Still they are invisible.”

Harney invites churches and groups in solidarity with the
undocumented to walk with him, give hospitality or provide
opportunities to discuss this moral challenge within our society.

Also see:

and Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPegitHL73I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGdid6cb4xI&feature=related

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