City of Asylum Hosts Monks

by    /  July 27, 2010  / No comments

When 15 monks came to Pittsburgh in September, 2009, they and their assistants needed a place to stay. Finding beds for some 35 people isn’t an easy task. City of Aslyum/ Pittsburgh opened its doors and hosted them in its four houses along Sampsonia Way on Pittsburgh’s Northside.

The monks were here to march during the G-20 and were supported by Clear View Project, a Buddhist-based American organization that provides resources for relief to monks and for social change in Burma.

Henry Reese, director of COA/P, explained why COA/P was involved: “Our current writer-in-residence is from Burma, which is one of the world’s most repressive and secretive regimes. It is also off the radar for most of us, a place about which we know almost nothing. Having the monks stay on the Northside and talk to our neighbors was a good way to create a heightened awareness of the situation in Burma  and to help them better understand why a writer from Burma is so easily endangered and needs our help.”

The night before the march COA/P organized a screening at The Mattress Factory of Burma VJ, Anders Østergaard’s Academy-award nominated documentary about Burmese video journalists.

The monks’ march was seen worldwide in the international press, but they also had a impact on the Northside residents who joined them. Ted Popovich, one of those who marched with the monks said: “I attended Burma VJ the night before the march. Someone asked me if I would be marching the next day. What could be more important than showing a simple form of solidarity with a people who have been suffering for years? It was so powerful to march peacefully with the monks and other supporters.”

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

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