One in every six people in the developing world is a permanent slum-dweller. To identify with such people and in an attempt to help alleviate their suffering, 16 people recently slept out in the grounds of the Eden Uniting Church. Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 April, were spent constructing a ‘˜slum’ and surviving the experience. In our conspicuous location only 50 metres from the centre of Eden shops, we made our own houses and cooked over an open fire. We tried to simulate, as well as we could, the conditions that slum-dwellers would face in Dhaka in Bangladesh ‘“ living under found materials like old cardboard or wooden pallets (without council approval), getting water from one tap, eating a limited diet of rice and lentils, having only one set of clothes, no mattresses, no pillows, no hairbrushes or cosmetics, and, hardest of all, doing without all the electronic objects that we rely on. Did I hear a mobile phone? There were other challenges through the weekend such as eating cooked offal to earn suitable small ‘˜luxuries’, such as pillows or plastic sheets. The inevitable rain came during the night and there were some leaks and collapses of ‘˜houses’ as well as some innovative rain coats!
Fifty years on, Doug Ireland is still working hard to upgrade the kitchen in St George’s Church Hall in Eden which he helped to build, with his brother Jack, in 1956-8. With a double sink, sealed cracks, several new coats of paint, and floor covering in place, it is looking good.
Eden UC is almost ready for its Real Meals healthy living program with the youth group, which is run in conjunction with the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship. Thanks to a grant from Bega Valley Shire Council, Real Meals will be prepared and shared. Several people from the Eden community are ready to come in and help with practical tips on diet and health including kitchen safety, menu selection, food handling and preparation, cooking methods and food presentation.
The congregation also is planning to join UnitingCare Pancake Day activities to raise funds for this venture.
The largest of eight cruise ships calling at Eden this summer was farewelled in style. As 1200 passengers, many from Britain, returned to the P&O Artemis after a day exploring Eden and the Sapphire Coast, Christmas carols were ringing through the air.
All the churches combined to bring this celebration of Christmas to our visitors. Passengers joined in the words of many familiar carols. But we had some new ones for them too. With bellbirds and lorikeets, heat and flies in the town they understood the significance of the Australian carols of the birds, and of the north wind, and readily joined in with the Aussie wave in time with the music!
Some carols were momentarily interrupted by mouthfuls of fly, but the great choir was undeterred by individual splutters. A special feature, much appreciated by those who were missing their own grandchildren, was the carol singing by children of St Joseph’s Primary School choir (even though they were on holiday).