My day at The Wave – 5 December 2009
The rain stopped as I walked to the station and I thought “this is going to be a good day”. And so it proved to be.
I joined some of my fellow CAFOD stewards on the third floor of Methodist Central Hall at Westminster, where we were to look after the CAFOD stall during the ecumenical service attended by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. I was overwhelmed by the numbers of people attending the service and their excitement and enthusiasm for the cause they were supporting. Young and old, I believe there were over 3,000 people in Central Hall, and many more were either in the basement watching on a big screen or remaining outside because there were no more spaces inside.
After the service, were made our way to Grosvenor Square to join the tens of thousands of campaigners who were already waiting there. When I saw them all I remembered Dora, a 21 year old medical student living in the community of El Prado, who I met in Nicaragua. When we asked her if she had any messages for people in the UK Dora said would we ask them to stop doing things which made their weather so extreme and unpredictable. In the past, the peasant farmers in El Prado knew when it was going to rain and when the sun would shine. Now, they don’t know any more, and there were unexpected and erratic long periods of excessively heavy rain and violent winds which caused flooding and landslides as well as devastating their crops. I thought to myself, “This is for you and your community, Dora. Today, people in Britain are shouting your message loud and clear.”
There were some 40,000 of us walking through the streets of London. There were blue hands, blue faces and many other kinds of blue facial decorations. People were happy and friendly. Wherever I found myself in the march, people were eager to chat, holding banners and CAFOD Climate Justice “hands”. From Trafalgar Square, I couldn’t see the front of the march down Whitehall nor the back looking down Pall Mall to Regent Street.
As I was walking, aching quite a bit and feeling tired, but elated, I thought of Jose Ephraim Valdez, a father of two I met last February on a crowded hillside in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Jose Ephraim was living with his two children in a wooden shack, made out of sundry pieces of wood nailed together and about three meters square. In October 2008, during the month long storms which devastated Honduras, the hill had moved eight meters and all the houses on it had fallen down the hillside. Jose Ephraim had no choice but to return to the hill after the storms. I thought, “let’s hope that the leaders of industrialised countries agree to put know how and money into developing countries to help them develop sustainably and adapt to the effects of climate change.”