Saturday, 30 July 2011


What happens when you bring together three generations of a Scottish family and a conglomeration of refugees and asylum seekers from various parts of Africa?

magic. Or god.

This was a week of community-building in the truest sense of the word; two disparate groups that spent the week living, working, eating, playing together, crossing cultural boundaries, learning from each other, and moving beyond stereotypes.

It was awe-inspiring to watch these two groups interact and build relationships. They all got on really well with each other, the kids playing together, the older ones taking care of the younger ones, everyone looking out for one another.

It was quite a change of pace from the previous 4 weeks of intense, high-energy youth groups! Our youngest participant was just over a year old, and our oldest was, well, Sally Beaumont, long-time Iona Community member and young-at-heart grandma - with all ages in between.

We had great fun getting messy in the finger-paints and turning the craft room into art gallery; escaping from the porridge monster in the jungle late at night; hunting for slightly damp treasure; and making all sorts of discoveries on the beach - there are SO many different kinds of seaweed, some that looks like plastic, and some that has bubbles!

We were blessed with a full week of beautiful sunny weather, which allowed everyone the chance to go kayaking and abseiling – even the 5-7 year olds gave it a go! – and swim to their hearts’ content. A fantastic day was spent playing on the white sandy beaches near Ardalanish farm – even grandmother Jaja went into the ocean, for the first time in her life. On a sunny Thursday morning, I walked outside to see a mix of 5 or 6 adults doing yoga together on the lawn, and folks could always be found reading in the sunshine, honing their table tennis skills, or expanding their vocabulary with Bananagrams.

For many, the highlight of the week was the raft-building competition. Or at least, for the women who won the race!

everyone in the water!

The week ended with a bit of magic: a delicious feast of curries and perfect chapatis cooked up in the kitchen after at emergency shop run at 5pm; a demonstration of magic card tricks by the youngsters (and Adam); and the magic of new friends and enduring relationships, which I’m sure they will continue to enjoy back home in Glasgow.


PS - the most dramatic event of the week was the sudden and shocking demise of one of our dearly beloved bearded men. that is to say, Kieran's beard has now become part of the compost instead of part of his face. two down, two to go. will Hamish make it to end?