2018 Building bridges in Glebe House, Northern Ireland

Glebe HouseGlebe House

Northern Ireland has been a deeply divided country with two communities: Catholic and Protestant. I have found a job as a part-time cleaner in an ecumenical guest house, three days a week.

Emiko leaving home in BishopscourtEmiko leaving home in Bishopscourt

It is located deep in the countryside. I cycle to work. Glebe House has been a meeting place from the time of the violent conflict in the 1970's, bringing together many groups of children and of adults from both communities inorder to promote an inclusive society. I give a hand wherever I can, making beds for the childrens' groups - up to 45 beds, washing the bedding, cleaning the place. There is plenty of work to do!
Recently I found a newspaper article which gave me insight into what young people have to deal with: It was a conversation between two boys (from opposing sides)"Why don't you like us?" The answer:"! don't know. It is in my blood". This conversation made me realize how deep the divide is, even though society looks peaceful at the moment. When I welcome teenage groups I sometimes remember this conversation.

There are many activities for adults too, crafts, seasonal festivities etc. I welcome them serving cups of tea, and sometimes lunch. One day after a group left, as I was cleaning I came across a woman's comment on a paper. She wrote "I found I can mix well with both communities. This place has helped a lot". Her comment reminded me of these phrases:

In order to love one another, we must know one another. In order to know one another, we must meet one another.

I discover more and more the deep commitment of all the members of Glebe house to build an inclusive society. I am grateful to be there and to be able to welcome people from such different backgrounds.

Warm welcome at Glebe houseWarm welcome at Glebe house