FULFORD Port-of-Spain, Trinidad ATHOUSAND of the poorest children in this wealthy city are having outdoor Christmas parties thought up and arranged for them by a 29-year-old Negro who was a Benedictine novice but is now living in poverty in the shanty-town quarter of Portof-Spain.
George Bowen had to leave the monastery five years ago for health reasons. He was offered a good home and a job in New York. He turned it down to be with the children—to give them school lessons and teach then, the Catechism. No one pays anything.
George Bowen models himself upon another Negro who was a Dominican laybrother and is now on the way to canonisation Blessed Martin de Porres. A picture of Blessed Martin hangs up m George's dilapidated 12ft. by 81t. boxwood classroom-a room where he often crowds 50 children aged three to 10.
' HERE I'LL STAY
THE few schools in the Colony, Catholic included, are overcrowded, so George, wandering in and out of deep puddles left behind — ready for mosquitoes to breed in — by a torrential downpour in the hilly shanty-town after his return from nearby Mount St. Benedict's, pitied the half-naked children he saw ahout him. learnt that at least 50 p:r cent. of them were Catholics, and decided: " Here 1.11 stay."
He took me to where he lives in the company of a very old Negro, who cooks for both of them. Just next , door to the ramshackle "school," from which children were noisily clambering out after a First Communion lesson, George's own residence is just as depressing. and the water, when it rains. comes in everywhere.
But as I write this there comes the welcome news that in the first Budget being presented by Trimdads new Government, provision is made for a heavier tax on local and imported alchoholic drinks. All the money obtained from this source will be used to build poor people's dwellings; 10.000 are immediately needed in the city.
Back in the classroom, perched on the side of a hill reached by climbing insecure wooden boards
interspersed with roughly hc■vn stone steps. George showcd me a notebook with the names of about 100 better-off people from whom 5. he now receives about 5s. each a month. This started about a year ago; up to then George had been literally a starving beggar
But he keeps little of this money for himself. It goes on so many obvious things he needs for his school, to which the Government refuses to give the smallest item. and for help in one way or another towards children's clothes.
NEARBY, as we talked, we heard the strange and not displeasing sounds of the famous steel-bands being rehearsed in the open valley by teenage boys, many of them George's expupils, all anxious to perfect themselves in a profession which brings in big money to the proficient in New York, Canada, Europe and the night-spots of Trinidad.
The least Successful of them may, unless George keeps in touch with them which he strives to do —'join the vast troupe of the Colony's juvenile delinquents.
George's apostolic venture had been going on for a long time
before certain Catholic Actionists Shanty Town, too, had its decided to help financially and the Nativity play. This picture monthly collections, often taken up was taken at a rehearsal. by George himself, became an
established thing. torrents for many months in mid With the help of these better-off year, threatening to wash away the friends he can now have yearly brittle wooden structures on which Christmas treats for his children in the wealthiest city in the British the stony valley of shanty-town Caribbean has for long turned its where the rains come down in hack in indifference.
LAY LEADER IS NEW HEAD OF UNESCO
nR. Vittorio Veronese, secretary
of the Permanent Committee of the International Congresses of the Lay Apostolate, has returned to Italy from India with his new title and post of Chairman of the Executive Council of the United Nations Educational. Scientific a n d Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
In an interviewDr. Veronese said that one of the most important decisions taken by the Unesco conference in New Delhi was the increase of
its budget by a million dollars, in spite of the political difficulties of the moment. A considerable part of the increase will be used over the next two years to improving cultural relations between the East and West.
This plan will include the translation of Western and Eastern classics into the principal languages of the world, exchanges of teachers and students, the wider circulation of films and documentaries, the photographic reproduction of works of art and their distribution in schools throughout the world, so that the children of the Eastern world will know the classics and art of the West, and vice-versa.
Dr. Veronese said that the conference contributed substantially to the institutional aim of the organisation—that of encouraging greater collaboration between the peoples of the world in spite of the present atmosphere of hostility against the West in which the conference was opened.