Around 40 people seeking refuge (7 families with 14 children and 17 young men) along with 9 volunteers from Swansea were met and welcomed by almost as many if not more local people.
Highlights of the day included table football games (accompanied by many people watching and much cheering!), the knitting group (one of the ladies had recently arrived from Syria and learned to crotchet despite speaking very little English), cake decorating, children playing in the play area, young men and boys (locals and visitors) skateboarding as well as the sharing of three wonderful meals. One group member likened the day to an all day birthday party!
We would like to say a big thank you to everybody that helped to make the day a success: the drivers, hosts (who had a whole weekend of cooking and preparing), our creative members, sportsmen, children and everybody that gave a donation of food/toiletries/kitchen goods (…) – it was a tremendous team effort that was greatly enjoyed by everyone.
We are also incredibly grateful to Brecon Foodbank who gave us over 170 kg of food to distribute as they have a remit to help people in need across the diocese. This amazing contribution combined with the generous donations from so many of our supporters meant that everyone left with two large bags of groceries as well as clothing. We also have a van full of kitchen goods, bedding, files and paper to take to one of the drop in centres next week.
A big thank you also to our partners in Swansea, Wayne and Maria, who make days like this possible by all they do in Swansea but also by helping with attending and transporting.
Lastly – to the people of the small village of Llanfihangel Talyllyn who have made an amazing effort and created everlasting memories – thank you!
A few words from Maria and Phil:
On behalf of all the asylum-seekers,refugees and volunteers from Swansea whom you welcomed so generously, I would like to convey heartfelt thanks. “Thank you” can sometimes be a somewhat inadequate word to describe the gratitude that we all feel. I am all too aware that there were a team of people in the kitchen and beyond who shopped, cooked, washed up and organised activities. Please would you convey to each and every one of them how much everyone enjoyed the day and how appreciative they all were of the warm hospitality received. Also, to all the drivers – this is no mean feat.
Today was one Sunday that many asylum seekers and refugees in Swansea had a very good reason to get up early. Many described to us how excited they had been at the prospect of visiting somewhere different. They will not have been disappointed. The welcome was warm, the food wholesome and delicious and a great deal of fun was had by all.
Several of the group ranging from an Albanian woman to a young Eritrean man explained how they felt ‘at peace’ in the outdoor surrounded by nature, how their heads felt ‘happy’ today, “usually I just sleep”, and when looking at the parcels they had to take home said ,”oh I am so lucky, I won’t have to go shopping for weeks.”
Personally, I feel uplifted to meet and speak with like-minded people and feel privileged to have spent the day with you all.
Many many thanks to each and every one of you.
Maria and Phil
We are hoping to host many more away days throughout 2016 – please get in touch if you would like to get involved!