Read about the day Mo and his team served his famous Ash Reshteh – Persian noodle soup for over 60 guests at a special celebration lunch at Sunnyside Rural Trust, and hear his heart-warming speech!
We are delighted to tell you about the Inclusive Employment Project Celebration organised by Step2Skills and hosted by Sunnyside Rural Trust.
Sunnyside invited our Iranian asylum-seeker chefs Mohammed, Sara, Arman and Asiyeh to make a dish for 60 people. They chose Ash Reshteh, or Persian noodle soup.
Our cookery project organiser Helen has been organising everything behind the scenes, going to specialist shops for ingredients and liaising with Sunnyside and the chefs to decide what they were going to cook, agree the budget, and talk about food labelling requirements & intolerances.
Prior to the event there was a trial run where the food was cooked for sale in the cafe. Then there was the whole day event: shopping the day before, then starting at 8am in the morning.
You can see an account of the day in this slideshow of whatsapp messages below!
Today we hear from an asylum seeker from Honduras who fled to England in fear of his life.
For his own safety we are not able to give his full name. He tells his harrowing story below:
“My trip to this nation has been to save my life and that of my family, which is my 3-year-old son, my wife, and I.
We had to leave Honduras since our lives were in danger.
One day, some people came to my house to leave me a mobile phone and told me in a threatening tone: “They're going to call you, you answer.”
A few minutes later they called, they told me that I had to pay them and that if I didn't pay them, they were going to kill my family and me, that they already knew where I lived, the school where my son was and where my wife worked.
A few days later, when I went down to the car park to go to church, I found my car damaged so I knew that the threat was real.
Unfortunately the police were not able to guarantee my safety. Because of this, I had to leave my country, where my life and that of my family are in danger.”
Attached is an example of this man’s amazing art work. You can see what a desperate situation this young family find themselves in. They are so grateful to our volunteers who make them feel welcome but they are very fearful for what the future holds.
Our Warm Welcome fundraising appeal launches this week.
Can you help families like those of Arash? Read more at https://www.hwsf.org.uk/fundraising-appeal-2023.html
Donate here https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/24622#!/DonationDetails
We are so grateful for your support in helping us continue our work with those seeking sanctuary here.
We are so sorry to hear about the deadly earthquake in the Herat area of Afghanistan. Our hearts go out to all those affected.
Another wonderful art session! With a huge thank you to Daler-Rowney who have given us fantastic supplies of great art and crafts materials that we can use for art clubs with adults and children. We will be sharing these with local asylum seekers who are artists and at our art sessions for asylum seekers.
Here is what we heard from some of the participants about the therapeutic importance of art:
"Art is important to me because it makes me forget all the problems and all the stress we have, in those painting hours we feel very good and filled with hope for life, we forget all our things, thank you for giving us this course, no matter how little we feel good, thank you ... I hope you will continue this course.”
“My mind is free when I participate in this meeting and I don't think about anything else, we have very bad conditions and our whole life has become stressed. We are worried that we will get depressed and by coming to these classes, we will feel better and calm down a little”. Thank you so much to everyone involved!
You can see more from Daler-Rowney's own blog post at https://www.daler-rowney.com/discover/news/herts-welcomes-refugees-x-daler-rowney
We join our voices to those calling for safe routes for refugees as in the article here
You will remember Mariam’s story at https://www.hwsf.org.uk/refugee-stories.html
Herts Welcomes Refugees supports Mariam’s family whilst Mariam is now studying Biomedical Sciences at the University of Westminster. Recently Mariam sent us this lovely photograph and an update.
Mariam tell us that she has just completed an interpreting course and can now provide official interpreting services at hospital. She says “Engaging in this work has given me valuable opportunities to expand my medical knowledge and ability to interact with patients.” Mariam wishes to study medicine once she completes her Biomedical Sciences degree.
You may also remember seeing this wonderful video https://youtu.be/r5P40F5UIb8 made for Refugee Week by the University of Westminster where Mariam speaks about overcoming the challenges she faced when arriving in the UK as a refugee from Syria.
Congratulations Mariam, we are so proud of you and pleased to hear how well you are getting on. You are an inspiration!
We are delighted to let you know that Enas has just graduated from Middlesex University with a degree in Interior Design! See her here with her proud mother Inaam and her Herts Welcomes Refugees supporters Kate and Maria – Maria writes ‘Here we are - the proud teachers with their precious student!’ Congratulations Enas, that is fantastic news.
We recently received this lovely message from Enas:
“I want to say big thank you to you and your organisation for the support during these three years and for introducing me to Kate and Maria. Kate carried on supporting me with English even in the summer holidays - and I can't thank Maria and Jan enough for what they have been doing for my mum and me; they treat and help me in all aspects of my life as if I am their daughter.”
You may remember Enas from our post here back in 2018: https://www.hertswelcomes.org.uk/news/meet-enas-the-artist-behind-hwsfs-christmas-cards
Enas not only designed Christmas cards for Herts Welcomes Refugees but also our lovely logo.
Thank you Enas, we are all so proud of you, and your mum Inaam who is making such good progress at College.
Among the many remarkable Afghan refugees whom we have been supporting are two young women, Mina and Arifa, who are aiming to take part in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
They also aim to start university courses soon and at Herts Welcomes Refugees we are so proud to have helped them to prepare for the language tests they need to pass with specialist tutors. Just now we have put them in touch with a student on a similar course to give an insight into university life.
Read their remarkable story here https://www.thewarriorcyclists.com/
We are so excited that Mina and Arifa will be competing in the UCI road world championship trials in Glasgow next month, the next stage on the journey to Olympic selection.
If you can help them realise their dream to get to the Paris Olympics please donate here
Thank you so much! Go Mina and Arifa!
Today as the Illegal Migration Bill is sadly passing into law, we would like to share the words of Sobia Razzaq, Area Convenor and academic. Here Sobia talks about the need for #compassion towards refugees and asylum seekers:
"I am fortunate to volunteer for a local charity called Herts Welcomes Refugees (HWR), which offers crucial support to refugees and asylum seekers across Hertfordshire.
HWR plays a vital role in providing practical assistance and connecting refugees and asylum seekers to their new communities. It recognises that successful integration requires more than just finding a place to live; it involves understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by individuals who have experienced displacement. This year's theme for Refugee Week, compassion, is at the core of HWR's mission.
Compassion serves as the foundation upon which meaningful assistance and support can be provided. It means not only recognising the challenges and hardships faced by refugees, but also acknowledging their inherent dignity and resilience. By treating them with kindness, respect, and empathy, we create an environment that fosters healing, empowerment, and successful integration.
Refugees and asylum seekers share the same concerns as everyone else, they desire a safe environment for their families where they can contribute and grow, and they are genuinely grateful for the opportunities they have been given. Unfortunately, biased, and toxic rhetoric against these communities persists, making it even more important for us to stand up for their rights and dignity.
I have been fortunate to be able to integrate some of this work with my day job as a lecturer and projects I work on; as academics, we have a unique role to play in integrating students into their local communities and fostering collaboration. By providing students with opportunities to engage with individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, we help cultivate a deeper understanding and empathy for the challenges faced by migrants and refugees. This first-hand exposure has the power to break down stereotypes and misconceptions, paving the way for a more inclusive and compassionate society.
We also have the responsibility to encourage our students to actively participate in making positive changes. By instilling a sense of responsibility and drive to contribute to a better future, we empower them to pursue careers and positions where they can make a meaningful impact. Through education, research, and advocacy, they can become advocates for positive changes in policies and practices surrounding migration."