This post is part of a short series written by volunteers and workers I have had the privilege of working alongside in a variety of settings. I have asked a few of these individuals to write about their experiences of working with young people in their particular context.
This post is written by Walter Otton:
A Grand in my Hand.
Itâ€™s a ten minute drive south from Paphos airport to Mandria, and a ten minute walk from my villa to the village where the restaurant is that shows the football. The heat is intense, been as high as 42 Celsius this week, you walk out the door leaving the air con behind and embrace what feels like hot coals on your face, arms and torso. As you walk down the street, only five years old these houses, roads and pavements – built on Biblical dust where the apostle Paul walked on barren land by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea – you pass a horde of identical villas with identical swimming pools – the touches of individuality only apparent with the variety of plants and flowers that adorn the front gardens – all of them desperate for water as the locals tell us this is the hottest August for a century. After the row of villas, you hit a road that weaves between fields and trees up to the village. Lemon trees; olive trees; pomegranate trees; peach (or nectarine) trees decorate the journey. In the fields are marrows; squash; onions – on one occasion when Iâ€™m walking the route, a van pulls alongside the road and a man and a lady step out the back of the vehicle and stare and study me for a moment before making their way to the fields to work – poverty in motion.
Iâ€™m told that many of the locals in their simple houses with their peaceful way of life are perplexed at the gradual invasion. There arenâ€™t many tourists here really, its mostly retired Brits scattered around and property developers looking for expansion, and some workers such as Brian, our neighbour in the villa next door, a landscape gardener from Kennington who misses going to watch Millwall. Coral beach is a forty minute drive away, and Ayia Napa even further â€“ a different world on the same island. Younger people, with fire in their bellies, are opposed to the transformation of their small community, the older generation merely startled. Twenty years ago theyâ€™d never seen an aeroplane, now several a day roar overhead. The middle aged accept the change and welcome the money, jobs and prospects that the small boom is producing. Within the last three years, three restaurants have sprouted up plus a convenience store that is open fourteen hours a day and yes, youâ€™ve guessed it â€“ with restaurants come bars and with bars come television and with television comes the brand that is stronger than ever: the English Premier League.
So I sit down. I order a beer. The football is on. And I start thanking my Daddy God. I thank Dad for the fifteen young people that joined the flock at Soul Survivor the week before. I thank Dad for all the children and young people on my case load that are closer to Jesus than they were a year ago. I thank Dad for my wife and kids. And above all, I thank Dad for the man who slammed a grand in my hand and said that the one thousand pounds in my palm was for a holiday. â€œGo awayâ€, he said: â€œyou need a breakâ€ â€“ so here I am feeling soothed in a quiet restaurant in a quiet village in roasting hot Cyprus. Iâ€™ve recuperated.
Bio: Walter has been a childrenâ€™s and youth worker since he was seventeen. He has written articles for football fanzines for 20 seasons, specifically for CFCUK since 2003 which is published monthly and sells up to 3000 copies per issue. On a career break in 2005, Walter sat at a computer in Queensland, Australia and in six weeks wrote Never Eat Shredded Wheat which you can find out about / order for a tenner (including P&P). John King (The Football Factory) loved it.