Matthew Reed - Kyrgyzstan
The driver comes at 1am so I can catch the cheap flight to the UK via Istanbul.
Inevitably on the journey home I reflect on the past very full 10 days.
In addition to the meetings with beneficiaries (some of which I have described in this blog) I have had meetings with colleagues and staff teams of our partners. I have taken hundreds of images (some of which will appear here soon) and there has been the inevitable, although most agreeable, long distances to travel. I have also endeavoured to sustain normal service with colleagues in Britain and Ireland by email in the evening. And I’ve produced this blog!
I have only been away just over a week; it feels more like a month.
When this trip was first suggested our Asia and Middle East team were keen for us to find ways of further highlighting the poverty issues and needs in Central Asia. I hope we have started on that and will look at it further. Indeed I used examples from Kyrgyzstan in sermons at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in Christian Aid Week last May. We have already started thinking about the youth trip to Zumrad.
Whenever I travel to less developed economies I am as shocked by the affluence when I get back as I am by the poverty when I am away. The financial and corresponding inequality of life security is astonishing. And yet it is more complicated than that. I do not return in one dimensional gratitude for the address I accidentally call home, for this past few days I seen much that in the UK we should learn from. I have seen resilient community, and people with time for each other. I have seen spirituality authentically ingrained in every day reality rather than marginalised to midnight mass. I have connected with the robustness, beauty and risk of the human spirit living close to the edge and feeling all the more alive for it.
I have learnt much about myself over the last 10 days. Part of my soul now resides in Central Asia, just as assorted elements have of it have long since settled in other countries where I have engaged with fellow humans in our essence.
This evening I am back in my home town of Marlow. It is so good to see my wife and children again. I hug them tight.
This is not the end though. The trip wasn't designed for my benefit; I now need to make it work for those I visited. I live this life because at my deepest level of my being I reject the ugliness and outrage of injustice, and I restlessly search for truth and the beauty of the human spirit. Tenacity to grasp tight to love and human beauty despite of, and in the face of, the rawness and injustice of human anguish. This for me is what life before and life after death is all about.
There is so much still to do; I’ll be back at my desk tomorrow morning.