“NEVER LEAVE”… the paper-bag-making song

This is a song I could never have written before coming to Crossroads. It has been inspired by one of the most frequently played experiential games in our Life X-Perience Program – the Basti Life game.

‘Basti” means slum and this game simulates the typical life of a slum dweller in places such as Bangladesh and Nepal.

Making bags out of any paper that can be found and selling as many in a day to the shopkeepers, who pay them according to their mood or whim, is the life of countless millions in this world.

Thousands in Hong Kong have already experienced the pressures, and discovered the lessons in Basti Life, and this new song was written in an attempt to capture a glimpse of a life that I certainly cannot begin to really comprehend.

As someone has expressed, the poverty of those living in a slum is both cyclical and exponential. Children are born to slum dwellers and they in turn grow up without opportunity for education or change, eventually marrying within the slum and then having children of their own. And so the cycle is never broken and there is an ever-increasing population who continues to live on less than one US dollar a day.

Not that there is a complete absence of hope or joy in these circumstances. People still get married, celebrations are still had….but the reality for most is that they will never leave the slum, and that making paper bags will be what they and their children and grandchildren will continue to do, just to survive another day.

This song is usually sung following the simulation, either by myself or Bethan Davies and is performed in the actual slum area that Crossroads has built on site.

It is a common question to hear one of us asking DJ or Helen Tozer, “Are we singing in the slums today?’

And whether it is to school groups or university students and their lecturers, to Disney corporates or senior management in business, it is always a privilege.

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