Some exciting news.
AJ and I spent some time in Italy and Spain with an organisation called Betel. Their primary focus is as a drug rehabilitation. But the way they ‘do’ rehab was unlike any that we had seen or heard of before. A great deal of their energy, program, momentum, everyday life is committed to restoring dignity to people who have been stripped of all sense of self respect. One of the ways they do this is by insisting that any one who lives in a Betel house goes to work everyday. They get up, they go to work, they learn a trade, they learn to serve …. they learn. And slowly they realise that they can contribute, they have worth and skill, that they are needed and necessary, that they have dignity.
One of the most important moments in my life occurred in a Betel owned op-shop in Valencia, Spain. The manager of the store had been an addict for a long time, he had lost his family, friends, everything he owned or loved had been destroyed by him and the drugs. He had gone into Betel 5 years before we met him. He had been working and running the op-shop for nearly the 5 years he had been at Betel. He welcomed us in and showed us around the store and warehouse where they restored much of the furniture before they sold it. To this day I have never seen such pride. He was so proud of his shop and of what he had achieved. The op-shop was immaculate and clean, beautifully laid out and organised. This man felt such incredible pride in his work and yet was humble and kind and sweet to us. In Australia, the manager of an op-shop would not be given a whole lot of credence by others and I’m not sure they would have the same sense of achievement as our Betel friend did. It stills brings me to tears to think of this man and what he had achieved. He taught me much about humanity and dignity and hard work.
Dignity is incredibly powerful in a person. As is the lack of it. That day in Valencia I got a glimpse of both and it has instilled in me a sense of justice that changed me.
So back to the exciting news! Betel has been here in Melbourne for a little while now, sadly their property in Marysville was destroyed in the Black Saturday fire and tragically one of their colleagues died in the fire. It has been a hard beginning for Betel in Melbourne. But today, in our letterbox(!!), we got a pamphlet advertising for Betel gardening services!! So they are up and running and people are working and getting one step closer to wholeness. Hooray!
If you need any gardening, mowing, weeding, landscaping, fencing done – let me know and I will pass on the details to you.