Community Involvement and Aid to others


News from Refugee Support GroupCliftonLogo

Our involvement with Tewkesbury Refugee Support Group is spearheaded largely by Richard and Bridget Sear.  Please see below for a recent update of the situation as reported from Samara, concerning aid convoys, dignity bags and the situation on the ground in the war torn middle east

A convoy of containers arrived in Aleppo last week carrying lots of clothing and also lots of medical items as well as some containers donated by some other charities.  We also have another smaller convoy travelling across Syria today and tomorrow and would appreciate your prayers for the protection and distribution of this aid.

Unfortunately, when we were about to book some lorries to Iraq for this last appeal, we were advised that there have been some changes to customs regulations and it is no longer possible for us to send used items to Iraq.  This is a change at government level and is beyond the control of our teams.

This is a big disappointment, as around 90-95%, and in some cases 100% of the items we send on each consignment are used.  It means the aid we collect in the coming appeals will need to be sent to Syria unless I send some to other neighbouring countries in the Middle East ie Lebanon or Jordan.

I have been thinking about how we approach our next appeals this Autumn.  I have been praying about whether in the coming appeals we should only collect new items, or whether we should continue to collect used items to send.  I feel it would be a realy shame to have to stop collecting used items altogether as some of it is really fantastic.

But one of the issues that I am concerned about is the level of quality control that takes place when used items are being sorted and packed before they are brought to us.  I am aware that most collectors are putting a great deal of love and care into choosing only the best items to send, and diligently washing and ironing clothes before packing them.  I am also aware that in some collections, items are being packed that I would not consider acceptable to send.  I always ask our teams on the ground for feedback, and I feel sad to say that there have been some occasions that I have felt disappointed by the reports.

Being a collector is a big commitment and also a big responsibility, and I feel that if we are to continue sending used items, I need to find a way to ensure that everyone who who is helping us collect is working to the same, very high, standards and ensuring that the volunteers helping them are also working to these same standards.  We aren’t doing this simply to meet a physical need, but to send a message to our brothers and sisters in need which says “you are worthy, and you are loved”.

Often, when I talk to our collectors I know that they completely understand our approach and also why these standards are so important.  But I feel that the problems start when some of the people who are helping them don’t fully appreciate this.

If we are going to continue to send used items, I need to find a way to ensure that everyone who works with us is using the same set of benchmarks, especially the people who have volunteered to help our registered collectors on packing days in their communities.  

For now, I am going to ask everyone who has started thinking about an Autumn appeal to hold back for now while I try to work on this as I will need everyone to who takes on a collection to register again with us using a new structure and guidelines before starting.  If you are keen to start making plans for a collection in Autumn and can’t wait for me to put a new structure in place, then I would ask you to focus on planning a collection of the following items.  The delivery date will be 6th October:

Dignity bags for girls and clothes, still in their packaging or with their labels on (underwear is especially needed)

I have some wonderful news about Dr K who was injured in a land mine explosion some weeks ago. After his injury he was in respiratory failure in ICU, which then progressed to renal failure and then liver failure over the following days.  His body was shutting down, so at this stage some of us started fasting and praying for him and it truly is a miracle to say that he has been discharged from hospital!  The team on the ground were fairly certain that he had lost an eye, because the tissue around it was so badly damaged that no one could have believed that he would ever be able to use this eye again.  But amazingly, Dr K is alive with full eyesight!  Where there was death looming there is now life, and where blindness looked inevitable, there is now vision. For this family who feared the worst, there is now hope.

Our Dr A spoke with Dr K after his discharge from hospital.  Dr K is Muslim and after his discharge, Dr A told him that there had been many of us praying for him and His recovery.  Dr K broke down and wept, saying 

“I know that there is no way I could have passed any of this without prayer.  I should never have survived this, but I am alive.”

Dr A described how he needs further surgery for his leg which lost a lot of muscle in the explosion and still has shrapnel wounds.  We talked about how difficult it will be for him to have a normal life or to feel he can work again as an emergency doctor if he has facial scarring.  Dr A told me that he felt as though he was talking with a broken man.  We would ask you to please keep praying for this precious doctor who gave so much of his life to helping people.  Please pray for his full physical recovery, for his face to heal without scars and most importantly for the healing of his heart and soul.  Please pray most of all for him to have hope.

While I was in Syria, I visited a roadside informal camp in which people were living in very poor conditions.  I was upset that their clothes were so damaged and dirty, and we noticed that the people had no water to wash their clothes even if we gave them degtergent.  They had to walk a long way to get water to carry home just to drink.  The video above shows our teams distributing water recently in 41 degree heat.  If you want to see the video in which our teams took them the water tanks you can see that on utube

I am hoping to be able to give more information to give you about future collections in the next few weeks, and would ask you to bear with me until then.   Thanks so much again to all of your for the time and love that you have put in to working with us.  I am looking forward to be able to give you more information in due course.

Love  Samara Levy

Samara’s Aid Appeal

161 Marine Parade, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 1EJ, United Kingdom

Wednesday Afternoon Hobby Club

crafting&accessories[1]The St Joseph’s Hobby Club was borne from the original Wednesday group and members come together on the third Wednesday of the month, when the group enjoy sharing their interests, skills, knowledge and artistic abilities.  Sometimes the group learn new crafts – recently trying drawing, beadwork, card-making, modelling clay and painting.  On other occasions the friends have visited museums, galleries or take trips to local places of interest.  This vibrant group welcomes newcomers to join in with the fun of just pleasing themselves!  Feel free to come along and phone 01684 293273 to let us know you are coming by leaving your name and number.  You are sure of a warm welcome.

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