This is a personal perspective of yesterday’s Eid celebration that we have received. It was a great day. Thank you to those who could attend. Please take a moment to read these touching words.
“Today I had the honour of attending an Eid celebration that had been organised in honour of our newly arrived Syrian refugee families. It was the first time I’d ever attended any sort of religious gathering outside of my school days, and the first time I would be able to meet the families themselves. I was more than a little apprehensive and nervous, would I be accepted into this group, would my intentions be seen for what they were, would I have any purpose there?
“As the room filled with people I realised I wasn’t the only person who wasn’t quite sure of how to portray our honest feelings of warmth and best wishes to the guests of honour. We all chattered and smiled disarmingly when an opportunity presented itself, hoping we’d have a chance to show our solidarity. The chatter became an excited buzz as yet more people arrived and the tables were laden with food. Delicious dishes had been lovingly prepared for the day, where families come together and celebrate one of the most special days in their religious calendar. Our refugee families had each other, but were mourning the loss of those they couldn’t have with them.
“Prayers were sung, and the families were assured that they would be part of our family now, we couldn’t replace those that they had lost or left behind, but the local mosque would be there and provide for them if they needed. The Bromsgrove and Redditch Welcome Refugees organisation have also been working closely with the families to aid and support them in their new lives, and I could feel the warmth in the room, the humanity. Everywhere you looked there were people who cared, and passionately.
“Before the feast began, members from the families told their story, of why they were here and how happy they were to be in our little town of Redditch. One of the women spoke with a passion that made me cry before I even heard the words translated . She had lost one son and she was desperate not to lose the other. As a woman, as a mother, I could not begin to comprehend the pain she has endured, the hardship she has overcome to be in that room with us today, sharing their holy day.
“In my own awkwardness I didn’t know how to tell these people that I too welcomed them, that I respect the journey they have been on and most of all that I wish for peace. I wanted to wave that fairy wand to take away all of the horrors and heal their pain, and that was when I saw a different kind of magic working in the room. The innocence of youth, the thing that gives us all hope.
“My two year old son broke the ice, charging around the room like a wild child I could see people smiling at him. As he dashed around chasing his ‘best friend’ because he doesn’t see colour or race, he sees fun and friends he was breaking down barriers.. He wanted to meet the babies and ask what their names were, holding me by the hand and dragging me across the room. I was so proud of him in that moment, and so grateful for sharing a moment with those families. We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.
“Whilst there’s a part of me that screams in anger and frustration at the pain and conflict this world has and continues to endure, there’s a bigger part of me that beams in hope and pride. The innocence of youth is my hope for the future, perhaps the experiences will help the younger generations step away from war and hatred. My son keeps me believing in that dream.
“So welcome to Redditch my new friends. I look forward to strolls in the park, the sharing of stories, the creation of dreams and knowing that there is always hope.”