One of our favourite holiday destinations is the West Country in the UK and one of our favourite things about the area is the names of some of the towns and villages. In fact our home county of West Sussex also boasts some fabulous names- names that get you pondering just what happened in times past for the place to now bear that strange/ amusing/ unpronounceable title!
Last week our peace work took us to a place called Danger. No one remembers exactly why it was thus named: there are stories of wild animals in the forest and warring communities but the origins of the name remain unclear. Mindful of the fact that the meaning of the name is less than positive, a few years ago the local Elders tried to change the name to “Salama” which means peace but to no avail. Danger remains Danger.
It was a hot spot for post electoral violence in 2008 as there are several micro-nations/ tribes trying to co-exist in the village and those were dark days when in the words of one Elder, “Neighbours forgot they were neighbours and friends forgot they were friends”.
But Danger has been transformed and transformed of all unlikely things by a television…..
The NGO with whom we are working fitted solar panels for power and put a television in a local eatery and the transformation began. The various communities both young and old gather together to watch the news, the football or whatever else takes their fancy and as they do so they build deeper and better relationships as friends and neighbours. As one elder put it “We have realised that we are a small part of a big world and we have recognised that we are all human beings”.
They have outgrown the little room in which they meet and are now trying to raise funds to build a simple community centre to house the television and a small library, making a place where more and more of them can gather together and grow in mutual care and understanding.
These people are willing to take risks, quite apt in a place called Danger, and the risks are paying off.