Thursday, April 05, 2007


It was around 6pm yesterday here, on the Corriere site, that I read of the imminent release of the 15 British sailors in Iran and let me say at the outset that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation on both sides, I am immensely relieved for them and their families. I must admit that I'd turned the TV news off earlier, as it seemed to me that the President was droning on, though it did occur to me that he was looking unusually dapper! What a piece of theatre! Pictures of some protesters in Britain holding up banners stating that the 15 "must die" were shown fleetingly on Sky and so I imagine that, now that they are home, their security will be a concern for a while.
At such a moment, when mistrust and misunderstanding between nations and cultures seems so great, I am going to mention on this blog an initiative which I have wanted to write about for some time, and that is the FAN [Friends and Neighbours] Groups in the UK. FAN is the idea of a dear friend in Cardiff and its genius lies, as genius often does, in its simplicity. My friend believes that if only "ordinary" people of all cultures could just get together and talk a little, on a day to day level, then maybe many crises in this world could be resolved because we would understand each other better. In the FAN mission statement words:
"We want FAN Groups in villages and towns of every country so that any stranger can find the nearest group and be sure of meeting a friendly face." - So simple yet so loving, isn't it?
I can personally vouch for the success of FAN for I have taught so many lonely women who have been helped by going along there, though I must emphasise that not all the groups are for women only. There were women who had had to flee their countries and leave all that they knew, including loved family members whose fate many, to this day, do not know; women who just needed a cup of tea to warm their bodies and their spirits and to see a smiling face; and , most importantly, people from the host communities who wanted to understand the "strangers" in their midst. At FAN all have found friendship, learnt about others, relaxed and blossomed. People so enjoy a FAN meeting for it is not a language lesson; it is not a discussion group; you don't even have to say anything if you don't want to. To date FAN meetings have welcomed people linked to 58 countries* and this is in Cardiff alone! FAN holds regular lunch or tea parties to which members bring along ethnic foods and members have also tried on each other's traditional garments and visited each other's homes.
My friend has often asked me if I would like to start a group here and I have considered it but, for various reasons, I don't think I am quite the right person to do it. But perhaps one of my readers in Italy would like to start a group? If so, you can contact me via the comments or FAN directly via the website. Se ci sono, per caso, dei lettori in Italia a cui piaccia l'idea del FAN, vi prego di contattare direttamente il FAN via il sito web o di contattarmi via i commenti. Grazie.
Another reason for posting this today is that it is Easter: what better time for posting about love?
*Countries of FAN Members

The FAN Groups have already welcomed people from 58 different countries. Here they are in alphabetical order:-

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia,
Bangladesh, Brazil, Burma,
Cameroon, Canada, China, Columbia, Congo, Cyprus, Czech Republic,
Egypt, England, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Germany,
India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy,
Kazakhstan, Kenya,
Liberia, Lithuania, Libya,
Malawi, Malaysia, Malta,
Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria,
Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Poland,
Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa, Spain, Sudan,
Uganda, USA,


Sally said...

What a lovely idea - I've always known and experienced that on a person to person level people are generally nice and wish each other well. Learning about each other's cultures takes the fear of the unknown away - because underneath everyone really wants the same thing; peace, good health, enough to eat, somewhere to live and a better future for their children. So - happy Easter dear Welshcakes and peace to everyone who reads your lovely blog

Ellee Seymour said...

I must say I have never heard of this organisation before, I agree that every town could do with one. I like the fact that it promotes multi-cultural members. The theme of my PR diploma is about race and diversity and something like this would go down well in my fictitious case study. We could all learn so much from each other.
Yes, let's hope you can start one in Italy.
Do men to along too, btw? There are so many lonely people today, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to socialise and meet other lovely people.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly uplifting - thanks for telling us about this WL

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Sally. You are right - most people want the same, wherever they come from. Buona Pasqua a te! Thanks for your lovely comments on my blog.
Hi, Ellee. Yes, there are mixed groups, too. I don't think I'm quite the right person to start a group here - not least because I need to spend time earning a living - but I'd happily help anyone who wanted to. Thanks, Shirl. Buona Pasqua, Ellee e Shirl!

Ruthie said...

That is an incredible idea... and it seems so simple.

Happy Good Friday!

James Higham said...

Not unlike what we are doing through the blogosphere and Blogpower, Welshcakes.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they were released. A good, Good Friday, to you.

Ellee Seymour said...

Have a lovely Easter Welshcakes, I look forward to reading all about it.

jmb said...

Seems like a very good idea in this day and age where no one lives where they grew up anymore, not even in the same country.
Buona Pasqua a te, WCLC

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Ruthie. Happy Easter! James, yes, what blogpower is doing is a sort of equivalent for those of us lucky enough to be online. Happy Good Friday to you, too, Steve. How are you celebrating Easter in Germany? Thanks again, Ellee - e altrettanto! Ciao, jmb. That is true - so many people have moved from their own countries now, voluntarily, which I suppose is the difference from earlier migrations. Buona Pasqua, my fellow lover of Italy!

Ballpoint Wren said...

What James said... blogging offers something similar, although not everybody has access to computers or the internet on a regular basis.

This project reminds me of the old "pen pal" sections that used to be in magazines. I corresponded with other kids from Singapore and Ethiopia when I was younger.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Bonnie. Yes, some of the women I taught would not know where to start with a computer and they have so many other problems. There is plenty of help in the form of classes for them in the UK but it takes a certain amount of confidence to seek this out. I used to love having pen pals when I was a kid, too.

Shani said...

What a brilliant idea, and like all such ones - simplicity is the key.



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