Saturday, 20 March 2010

My Madrid book group

Nicky and Moira and the March book "What is the what" by David Eggers

When I came to Madrid, I was determined to either join or start a book group. Moira is a teaching friend with the same idea and after some false starts, we decided to start our own. The first few months were just the two of us and the books were chosen from what was readily available. English books are often expensive or hard to find here and that can limit the options. We meet in a small bar called Cafe Isadora in Malasana and have had some great evenings talking about the book, drinking cava cocktails and watching the schmoozing lovers who also frequent our little bar!

In January our numbers swelled to four and now we have a potential group of six people for our next book. We read and discussed an important book in March, the biography of Valentino Achak, one of the lost boys of Sudan. We were all inspired by his story which raised many questions.

I was left thinking about what it means to lose your home, your family, your whole way of life and to walk naked and hungry for thousands of miles from the Sudan to Ethiopa and eventually to the refugee camps in Kenya. The story of what happens to people in Africa should be front page news and not the rubbish we are fed about celebrities. In this year of the World Cup tournament in South Africa, I wonder if this will be the year that we see some change. Valentino ends up in the US and through sponsorship he is able to create a new life and to gain the most valuable commodity of all - education. The royalties from the book are all being invested in a foundation that is bringing education to the people in his home village in Sudan. From their website, I learnt that I could offer my services as a volunteer teacher.

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