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Updated: Oct 23, 2022


The rain was pouring down in Paris, people huddling under bridges or trees, rubbish littering the streets. In the CEDRE, paradoxically, one man painstakingly read the English transcription of a traditional Malian song to conjure up rain : « Let the rain pour out of the vast sky, let it water our grandmothers grave, let it fall in the calabashes of millet. »

We noticed people were particularly tired and hungry, with the chill of autumn arriving. The Community Table helped some to sit and order something of the chaos of their lives, placing brick on brick or making plasticine animals while they talked. “I’m so stressed, my mind goes round and round” said one man waiting to appeal again for the right to stay in France. “They want me to tell my story but I can’t remember anything”. He made a plasticine mortar and pestle and placed it against a black and white photo of a forest with a little wood house “like my family’s house”.

The team of the CEDRE had taken the time to organize a festive moment to celebrate September birthdays, with balloons, apple cake and spicy hot apple juice. There were smiles and applause, then the cake disappeared in a matter of seconds as a volunteer picked out Happy Birthday on the piano.

Naomi Press and Kate France

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