I am angry again.
It is Saturday - outside the supermarket
Jeanie is inside, shopping for the weekend.
The dog and I are waiting in the car. Tilly still needs company and we have only brought her out for a walk after the shopping.
James is at the car park gate.
He is begging.
James is tall, strong, good-looking, ambitious, healthy - and black.
He has a family - a stable relationship - a wife and first child, a son, Happiness. James wants to work. He is desperate to work.
The question to be asked is, ‘Why doesn’t he work. Why beg when fit enough and strong enough to work.’
The answer, ‘He entered this country of Spain illegally, undocumented. By law, he cannot own or rent a property, he is not allowed to work and earn money for his family. ’
His ambition is to live a settled life. Not to beg. A life caring for his family. A life enabling him to hold up his head. To be proud. He is a refugee but doesn’t want to be a refugee. He has no status. No identification. No National Insurance number. He cannot apply for status. He cannot apply for a driving licence or take driving lessons. He wants what we have, a life free from persecution, from strife. A life where his family can grow up in an atmosphere of calm. He is from Nigeria where Christians and Muslims are in constant friction, one against the other. His wife is a victim of family persecution,
He came to Spain illegally to try to achieve his ambition. Here, he has no health care. He has no passport. His wife has a passport and his child was born in Spain. They are able to receive health care.
Now, in Spain, the situation is that any government sponsored charity, any government aided organisation, wants nothing to do with him and his family. If an illegal is helped or supported in any way, potential grants, subsidies, charitable support can be at risk. So Caritas, so Reach Out, so social services cannot or will not help. There is no organisation that can allow him to be put to work. This is why many of his fellow countrymen, and other illegal immigrants from the African continent, can be seen hawking illegal, contraband items on sea front promenades, watching carefully for the local police and doing everything possible to avoid them. Rather than run from the police, James has chosen to beg at the supermarket gate.
Spain has many economic migrants. Those with a Hispanic heritage - particularly from Latin America - have citizenship rights. Those who come illegally from the African continent generally have no rights.
James is a church going Christian here in Spain, respected well enough within his congregation. Yet it is other hard nosed Western Christians, not from his congregation, who have tried to separate him from his wife. They are devoted to each other, loyal to each other but have not gone through a conventional Western marriage. It has been said,
‘You are not married. You must live apart. Your child is illegitimate. Living in sin, you cannot be baptised in the Faith.’
This is the church at large which was given the the instruction,
‘Go forth and speak to the nations in my name, the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.’
He who taught love and self sacrifice, He who healed, who asked for little children to come to Him, who welcomed the outcast and the vulnerable.
James and Patience and their son attend our church, have been baptised and are welcomed and loved. Our church, mainly comprised of senior citizens, old age pensioners, does what it can to support and help. Illegally. Despite this, because of circumstances that beset him, James still needs to beg outside the supermarket this morning.
I am angry at this uncaring world.