What unites us, is much greater than what divides us
We have a long involvement with HOPE (Hospital Organisation of Pedagogues in Europe) and their president Jan encouraged me to write a post for their upcoming newsletter. I could not disappoint him, but where to start? There is so much happening in the world at the moment and not all of it is good.
Just as we start to see the light at the end of the Covid tunnel the spectre of war rises once again in Europe as millions of people and children are forced to leave their homes and their country.
At the hospital school, I work as a music teacher, and so first I would like to share with you a piece of music. You might well know it already as it was first released back in 1972 by the composer Gavin Bryers - but when I heard it the other day, I was amazed that I hadn’t heard it before! It’s called “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” and begins with a repeating loop of a homeless man singing a fragment of a gospel song. He was recorded singing on the street in an area of London called the Elephant and Castle. The plan had been to make a documentary about the area, but if never happened. But the recording survived. After a number of repeats, orchestral instruments slowly join in with his singing. It’s gentle and moving, and speaks to me of the possibility of hope when everything feels hopeless. Do listen to it, and if you’re like me, be prepared for a tear or two! Here's the link to the music on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1lnSi7QWY8
Now, hopefully, you have already heard about the website Well at School? If so, hold on because I’ve got something new to tell you. And if not, then please do take a look – it is an online resource for schools, with all the latest information and advice on how to support children with medical and mental health conditions. The best thing is that we constantly keep it up to date. I meet with Maria Marinho on zoom every Monday morning and we discuss what we need to do that week. This really means that as a resource it is alive and constantly responding to the changing needs of schools and how they can support their students.
OK, so the new thing this is this – we started to make “Well at School” available in different languages. And yes, it does use Google translate, but the clever thing is that we have taken it one step further. Now it is possible for you to edit the text that has been translated so that it makes sense to a native speaker. For example, we started with the Dutch language version of the website nl.wellatschool.org/ As you can see it has the letters “nl” in front of the wellatschool.org domain name. Dutch native speakers have been editing this text to improve the Google translation. There are similar versions for virtually every language you can think of. At the moment you can access these different language versions from the dropdown menu at the top of the www.wellatschool.org homepage.
So, if you think a translated version of the Well at School website would be useful for you, in your language, then let me know, and I can explain how you can easily edit your translation so it is readable for you and your audience. Unfortunately, you cannot change the structure of the website, but all the translated text is available for you to change and improve.
I’d like to finish with a photograph that I took back in 2016 when I was making a photography project about the huge changes happening at the Elephant and Castle. Now of course my photograph was taken over 40 years later than the “Jesus’ Blood” recording, and I have no idea about this man and whether he was homeless or not, but there’s something about his demeanour, the way he seems so relaxed, resting on that uncomfortable box, that for me, connects him with that piece of music.
Right now, it seems we are all making links and connections, with what has happened before and what is happening right now as this terrible war envelopes our neighbours in Ukraine.
As we face these uncertain days it is vital that we all, and within HOPE as well, maintain and re-establish these links between us. And as the quote says “What unites us, is much greater than what divides us”.