The arrival board at Muscat Airport
reports that the Biman Airlines flight arrived at 00:45 from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“Bags are on the belt,” displays the
automated sign board. Then it changes to
“Bags are delivered.” I tell Gary Brown that I am going to get a espresso shot
at Café Nero. It shouldn’t be too long
Now it’s been an hour long wait. There’s no sign of the group of eight
students coming from Notre Dame University Bangladesh Students and their
professor, Father Patrick Gaffney. I
start to wonder what could have gone wrong.
I call Father Patrick’s cell. No
connection. Good. It means they at least managed to board the
plane in Dhaka. What’s the hold up?
It’s been an hour and half. There’s
still no sign of the group from Notre Dame University Bangladesh. Something must be wrong. I am starting to worry. Visa problems? Lost baggage?
Corona Virus? There’s a steady
stream of Bangladeshis – all men coming for employment opportunities. They join the more than 600,000 Bangladeshi
already working in Oman.
Now, I am worried. Something is wrong for sure. Gary stays.
I go to seek anyone who might have any information in the wee hours of
Gary calls me. The group is here.
They look tired but excited. They act as if nothing was wrong. I ask no questions.
The next day, Fr. Gaffney tells me
what happened. Upon entering Oman,
disembarking passengers were required to complete a form stating from where
they had traveled, their destination and contact in Oman, and their current
state of health. The form was in Arabic
and English. A migrant laborer had
requested assistance from a student.
Then another and another asked the students for help. There was no way the students could
refuse. “We had to do it,” says Fr. Gaffney. The Notre Dame students remained until they
had filled out the forms for everyone on their flight from Bangladesh.
For Christians and many other religious persons, love of God and Neighbor is not an optional choice but an imperative. Love of God and Neighbor are not two different loves but one and the same. In times of danger, we must choose the imperative.
Muslims students from Notre Dame University Bangladesh had come to the Al Amana
Centre to meet with eight Christian students from University of Notre Dame in
Indiana. They had gathered virtually as
part of a joint course, entitled “Holy Crossroads: Religion and Politics from
South Bend to Bangladesh.” Now, they met
together in Oman during spring break.
week they were in Oman, the Corona Virus struck with full force. Facing the closures of their universities,
both American and Bangladeshi were both concerned about getting home. Oman went into lockdown the very day the
group had departed Oman in the early morning hours. The evening before, I watched the students
embrace and hug each other as they said words of farewell and thanks. Now the physical distance separates them
again, but they continue to connect through a WhatsApp group, sharing concerns,
jokes, and photos.
The Al Amana
Centre is nearly deserted now. I go almost
daily to the Centre alone for a couple hours, just to get out of my families
hair. I poke around in the closets and
the back shed, cleaning out the junk and looking for treasures from the
American Mission’s past.
have turned up an old slide projector and a half-dozen boxes of slides from the
1970’s. This will keep me occupied for a
couple hours. I also found a copy of Love in a Time of Cholera by Gabriel
Garcia Marquez. I’ll read it as soon as
I finished The Kite Runner that Fr.
Gaffney left me. I should have plenty of
time to read in the days ahead.
hold the words of our dear friend Naima close to my heart. Since the Islamic Information Center at the
Grand Mosque where she volunteers was closed she came to meet the Notre Dame
students at Al Amana Centre. “Corona is only a creature. Fear the Creator.” The Creator’s only command: Love. I hold fear and love together in these days.
in our time,
PS: If anyone knows where to get
Camus’ The Plague as a free ebook,
please send me the link.
Written by Rev. Jeffrey Bos, Al Amana Centre
http://alamanacentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/IMG_8353-2-scaled.jpg13652048Emma Wrighthttp://alamanacentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/al-amana-logo-full.pngEmma Wright2020-03-31 17:24:282020-03-31 17:24:30An Excerpt from LOVE in a TIME of CORONA
While our regular programs are suspended due to coronavirus, Al Amana Centre is introducing weekly Fireside Chats. These 1-hour conversations are streamed on Facebook Live each Sunday at 8pm GST (12PM EST). Each week we welcome a different guest from our community here in Oman.
Our second episode featured Mohammed Alshuaili, long-time friend and Arabic tutor at Al Amana Centre! If you have additional questions about Omani culture, leave a comment. We hope you enjoy!
Watch the video below:
http://alamanacentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Screen-Shot-2020-03-31-at-5.51.38-PM.png10141514Emma Wrighthttp://alamanacentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/al-amana-logo-full.pngEmma Wright2020-03-30 17:00:002020-03-31 17:53:01Video: Fireside Chat with Mohammed and Jeff