Help the refugees

If you move around the world by choice, consider helping those forced from their homes by conflict. Donate to the UN Refugee Agency today.

Home News Language barrier stops Briton’s peace walk in France

Language barrier stops Briton’s peace walk in France

Published on 03/03/2008

   LONDON, Feb 29, 2008 (AFP) - A British peace activist aiming to walk toIndia to prove a money-free world is possible has turned back at the firsthurdle, after getting to France and finding he needed to speak French.   Writing on his blog Friday a month after starting his trek, 28-year-oldMark Boyle said he and two friends accompanying him ran into problems theminute they arrived in the French port of Calais.   "Not only did no one... speak the language, they also see us as just abunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what thepilgrimage is really about," he wrote.   "That really scared us, and given that we now were pretty much out of food,hadn't slept in days and were really cold, we had to reassess the wholesituation.   "We spoke to a few people who were willing to talk and they said thatFrance would not go for this unless we could speak fluent French, which noneof us could."   After the setback, Boyle said he was advised to head instead forneighbouring Belgium "as folk said they would be more likely to want to speaksome English".   "The only trouble was the first decent-sized town in Belgium was 170kilometres (106 miles) away, and all we had was three tins of soup, a bag oftrail mix and a chocolate bar to sustain us," he said.   "As it was unlikely that we would get a chance to help or be helped byFrench people in the journey getting there, the task looked daunting to saythe least," he said, adding that he had no choice but to head back to Britain.   Boyle set out from his home in Bristol, western England, at the end ofJanuary aiming to end up at Porbandar in India, Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace,after the 9,000-mile (14,500-kilometre) trek.   According to his official website, Boyle is walking "without any form ofmoney because he wants his life to be his message." He had hoped to take abouttwo and a half years to reach India.   The coordinator of the project, Dawn Tovar, denied Boyle had abandonedplans for his marathon walk.   "He has not given up his project," she told AFP. "He is currently walkingin the southeast of England. He will tour around the UK, learn French andleave again for Porbandar."

AFP