Christ Church concert raises funds and awareness for refugee accommodation programme
The soulful Discovery Gospel Choir and the inspirational High Hopes Choir entertained a packed Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday 27th November for ‘A Place to Call Home’, a bene t concert for the Dublin and Glendalough Refugee Housing Appeal.
Organised by the Dean’s Vicar, the Revd Abigail Sines, the concert raised €1,831.57 for the appeal which supports the Irish Refugee Council’s pilot housing project.
This project aims to help people, who have been granted leave to remain in Ireland, to move from Direct Provision to independent living by providing transitional accommodation, along with individually tailored support to help them find work and integrate in their local communities.
The project has the added benefit of diverting some of the pressure from State and non- governmental organisations dealing with homelessness by ensuring that less people coming from Direct Provision end up on their books.
Nobody can deny that numbers and statistics are a vital part of telling any story. Yet they can never communicate the truly human side of a story. They may occasionally shock or surprise us but they don’t often touch the soul in the way a person telling their story can.
This has been a year for many news stories – international politics, Brexit, politics closer to home and the like. It is also a year when the theme of refugees has been a significant feature on our TV screens and newspapers. Whether it is the Rohingya people, refugees fleeing Syria or Yemen – these are but a few of the trouble spots that hit the headlines.
The UNHCR states that we are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. Those are figures that really do shock.
The human story behind some of these figures was displayed very powerfully at an event in Christ Church Cathedral on the evening of 27th November (see front page). The occasion was a joint concert by the Discovery Gospel Choir and the High Hopes Choir.
They played to a packed Cathedral for ‘A Place to Call Home’ – a benefit concert for the Dublin and Glendalough Refugee Housing Appeal. This project aims to help people who have been granted leave to remain in Ireland move from Direct Provision to independent living by providing transitional accommodation along
with individually tailored support to help them find work and integrate in their local communities.
Music has a unique power to touch the human spirit and the involvement of both choirs certainly delivered on that. However, it was a human story, told during an interlude, that brought home the reality of what living as a refugee is like. Nabil Allam from Syria spoke about how he had to flee from Syria due to the civil war taking place there. Describing his experience when working as a plastic surgeon in Syria, he gave a vivid sense of the sheer disruption to his life – leaving everything behind – and of the challenge to get his qualifications as a plastic surgeon recognised in Ireland. The audience could only be struck by the resilience of the human spirit.
Nabil’s story is a reminder that being a refugee is about being more than a statistic or a number. It displays the cost of fleeing one’s own country and the challenges of a life disrupted. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.
Being reminded that the story of every refugee is one of a human life – no more or less precious than our own – is both powerful and necessary. Being a refugee doesn’t mean wanting any less hope for the future than anyone else. We all desire the same thing for ourselves – to have a settled home, the possibility of a future and to have the means of making the best of our lives.
It all suggests a responsibility on each of us to meet human need whenever we can. It also means a responsibility on our governments to provide the most humane means possible to help those who have come to our shores to have a life with the promise of a future. After all, we are only asking for others what we would want for ourselves.
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Letters to the Editor
I Believe – Confirmation resource
IN AN ERA where many people seem to like to complain, I want to say thank you. I want to thank those responsible for producing the Confirmation resource entitled, I Believe.
The Church of Ireland Youth Department have done our Church a real service by producing this course. It is very easy for young people of teenage years to follow. I particularly
liked the booklets which each candidate can keep as a record of their preparation and as a guide through the journey of the course. I also appreciated the breakdown and variety of resources that were suggested.
This was clearly produced by practitioners in the field of youth work. I also liked the last two sessions on ‘Service’ and ‘Sharing the Faith’.
This is something which I will be glad to use in the future when conducting the next preparation course.
Contrary to the first review of this course in the Church of Ireland Gazette, I say that this is a success and well worth embracing, supporting and promoting in the Church of Ireland.
Nigel Baylor (Canon) Jordanstown
Reconnecting with our diaspora
I GREATLY enjoyed your editorial (Reconnecting with our diaspora) and Professor Brian M. Walker’s article on the Church of Ireland Diaspora (8th September 2017).
Recently I arranged a reunion of North Americans descended from a group of 19th-century brothers who left St John’s, Florencecourt, and made new lives in Eastern Ontario. Like your writers, I found the experience empowering and realised how this extended family had indeed worked so hard for the common good and was an example to us all.
One story really emphasised the importance of reconnection. In early 1919, on the way home from the Great War, one of the Canadian cousins called with my family in their “white-washed cottage between lakes and mountains in Fermanagh”. He had photographs taken of the family, which included a baby boy who died shortly afterwards. In the intervening years, my family had lost all evidence of William.
However, at a recent reunion a descendant of that Canadian cousin brought along a 1919 photo showing the baby on my grandmother’s lap. It was a powerful and emotional moment, made even more special when they told me that their grandfather had named his first child William on return to the farm in Chesterville and the boy went on to become a doctor in the US, specialising in infant care.
CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE KEYHOLE: LUKE’S GLIMPSES OF ADVENT Author: Derek Tidball Publisher: Bible Reading Fellowship
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