Yesterday my mother moved out of her home of 35 years, a home full of memories, happy times and sadder ones. Even though I never lived there it remained an anchor place in my life, and holds a special place in my children’s memories as well – a funny set of emotions.
This got me thinking – the decision to move is hers, she will only be a few miles from the original home, she will remain amongst her friends and know her neighbourhood. So what’s it like when it is not by choice?
What happens when you are forced to leave?
When you have no planned packing up or knowledge of your next steps?
When decisions are on the hoof?
Or when you come home to find it has gone?
What happens to those memories? Those connections?
We often talk of multiple bereavements faced by refugees and sometimes we get a tiny understanding of how complex they may be. Here is just one of those bereavements and glimmers of a faint reflection of the client experience.
Another day at GARAS!
This week has seen its share of stories of pain and suffering at the hands of fellow human beings.
The malicious and intended deliberate acts to use and abuse, to traffick and torture, to maim and inflict pain.
Then there is the less intended consequence of inaction, of withholding of support, or manipulating facts to prolong the decision making processes, more of that another time!
But in the midst there can be so many acts of kindness, of humour, of interaction with our fellow human beings. Whilst trying to sort out a few extras to improve life for a new family settling into Gloucester, we offered them a tin opener. It was obvious from the expressions this tool had never been seen before, so the miming of how to use a can opener caused humour all round and laughter is always a good way to build relationships.
But the highlight of the day was meeting young Edie. Edie has been determined to help refugees and to make life a little better for another little girl like her.
So for months she has been fundraising, washing cars, doing what she can to raise enough money to buy a bicycle, so someone can enjoy what she enjoys. Yesterday she came with her mother to give this to her new friend Nadia. They met and Nadia was given her brand new, shiny bicycle, they smiled shyly at each other and found a bond. It was a really lovely moment to witness and to know for certain and without doubt that love and care can win out!
Life at GARAS can be full of life’s ups and downs. It can put us all through a roller coaster of emotions which can be a challenge to manage.
Tuesday was such a day.
Finally, after years of waiting, years of winning appeals yet having them thwarted by the Home Office, a young client received the news we have been long hoping for, that the Home Office would not appeal against the Court’s final positive decision. This is wonderful news. This young person can finally start to build their life, finally feel there is a future, finally take their life off hold. This has been a very fraught time for them, unnecessarily so and it has taken its extremely heavy toll on their emotional well being, so we really hope that their future is now bright. Therefore this news was greeted with great joy.
Meanwhile, in the background, another client was sitting in a Detention Centre not sure what their future held. A threat of removal hung over him but no definite date was known. We did what we could in the time available and right up till late that evening, were calling around possible leads to see if anything could be done. But the last heard from them was a call from the bus on the way to an airport and the assumption can only be that they have been returned to their home country, a country that they had not been safe in.
Such can be a day in the life of any organisation like ours that wants to care for those we serve and do our best by them. We can’t solve everything, in fact sometimes we can do little when decisions are outside our hands, but maybe, for a little while, we can be alongside to show a humane face.
oops, please note that the The Transports will be performing at Cheltenham Town Hall on Wednesday 10th January, not the 11th as in my previous message.
There is also information on their Facebook page if you are interested
Happy New Year to all who read the GARAS blog. Maybe in 2018 I will be able to write more frequently.
As a starter to the year there is an event in Cheltenham on the 11th January at Cheltenham Town Hall by The Transports.
This information is from their website:
There’s nothing quite like The Transports. The music is stunning – performed by some of the best folk musicians in the land, often singing in ten-part harmony – but it’s much more than a concert. It’s a dramatic show, but without actors. It’s rooted in the past, but taps into anger and injustice today. We’re not quite sure why it works so well, but it does. Audiences are enthralled.
As part of their show they tell a little of the migration story of the place they are performing and you can read more about that at:
Tickets are selling well and can be bought from the Town Hall site or the Transports own site.
This sounds like a good night. GARAS and CWR (Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees) will be there so maybe we will catch up!
Over the next week or so, there a number of events being held in Gloucestershire that might be of interest to followers of this blog.
1) You may recall that I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina last autumn where I visited some of the places that were involved in the atrocities of the conflict in the war there. Amongst the people we met was a woman who was involved in helping women from Srebinica rebuild their lives and community. She will be visiting the University of Gloucestershire next week and you may be interested in hearing of the work she has been involved in. This link will connect to the booking page.
2) Meanwhile all week in Cheltenham, the Everyman theatre is showing a stage version of the Kite Runner by the talented Khaled Hosseini, retelling the story of 2 Afghan boys and their lives caught up as their homeland descends into war.
3) Over Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th of November, a play called The Bundle will be performed in Stroud and at GARAS, Gloucester. “Based closely on the story of a real woman and her three young children, who escape from domestic persecution and denial of human rights in Chechnya, to find a home in the UK. Here they encounter the
Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ to asylum seekers and refugees.The Bundle has been commissioned by QARN (Quaker Asylum Seeker and Refugee Network).”
The Stroud event will be on the 6th November at the Trinity Rooms, Trinity Road Stroud and will start at 7.30. If you miss that evening you can come to GARAS, 111 Barton St, Gloucester, the following evening for a 7pm start.
Refugees at Home
Are you interested in hosting a refugee in your home on a short term basis? If so, please contact ‘REFUGEES AT HOME’ – http://www.refugeesathome.org/ . We are working with them to sort out accommodation for refugees who face a period of homelessness between being granted their Refugee Status papers and finding settled accommodation to move into. More information is available on their website. They come recommended. The more hosts in the Gloucestershire area (especially Gloucester itself), the better! Please forward this on to any friends or contacts who you think may be interested. Thank you.