‘I’ll remember everyone relaxing, enjoying themselves, dancing, playing,no one forced to do anything, no one scared and loads and loads and loads of food.’ reported a young volunteer when asked about the day out on 11th February in Llangorse.
It’s hard to find something new to say about another near perfect day shared by a large number of people from HBTSR and on this occasion communities around Llangorse Lake with 40 people seeking asylum in Swansea and 12 Syrian people from Ystradgynlais. The intermittent snow didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and even the patio doors being stuck open was a source of additional fun. Thanks Richard and Mark and many others! It was mended by Greg who had to take the door frame off that evening.Apparently a screw had sheared off into the works before the spade and other implements came into play.
We had board games, table football, air hockey, a playpen full of toys[ Thanks Jane and many others who played all day] , face-painting [ thanks Lynn], , conversation, drawing, dream pillow making and snooker would have been on offer had we been able to find the balls [ black mark to Ailsa]!
A walk to the lake led by Colin, Wally, Roger, Robert and others gave people a chance to work up an appetite.
We had the superb Crannog Ceilidh band who generously gave their time and expertise for no charge and managed to get so many people up to dance but even better managed to encourage people to share dance from their own cultures. We saw English country dance, Irish reels [No, Sean didn’t] , Albanian dancing which women, who had arrived apprehensively, threw themselves into, Iraqi dancing with a recently arrived man and some children dancing in a sinuous snakey line and possible future talent show stars sang plenty of songs from ‘If you’re happy and you know it’, through ‘Ring a ring a roses’ to ‘Let it go’ from Frozen[ which thankfully we weren’t – several hundred people and good heating made sure of that]. Enormous fun and a super way to spend a snowy Sunday.
What can I say about the food except that it was stupendous! There really was something for everyone. We had authentic Sri Lankan curries prepared by Kumari, Sriyani [ various assistant commis chefs did vegetable prep on the day before and helped carry, display, serve and wash up- thanks Alison, Alina, Avril, Ord, Ailsa, Melrose, Iona, Rose,Robert,Penny[ x2], Christina, Sarah and Doreen amongst others] and two people seeking asylum who came over early to ensure that we would all have a feast.[I’m told Thanu doesn’t mind if she doesn’t see a cabbage for a long time after finely shredding at least 9 and Gayan is glad he doesn’t have to prepare any more coconuts- Sri Lankan cooking does use a lot]. Halal Chicken and non- Halal Chicken curries, Potato and bean curry, Chilli fried Potatoes, Cabbage curry, Chick pea curry, Dal, Rice, Mango Chutneys and Hot Sambal wowed people.
Alex made enough pitta bread for everyone [so there must have been several hundred] and he had several willing assistants who helped to roll out the dough and many, many people who helped to eat it! Alex said that it was quite simply his favourite day of baking ever and that it had been a privilege to be there. I think we were the privileged and I noted people queuing to ask Alex to repeat the exercise at future days!
I said something for everyone and meant it because there were also many platters of cheese, eggs, olives, salads of many varieties and enormous quantities of fruit. Thanks to Steve who went to Birmingham market, Ailsa who picked up from Aldi and Swansea and Jonny, Tina, Becky, Paul, Penny and Mike who bought and prepared the items listed above.
We had over 100 local people call in at various times, representatives of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Llangorse School, Crickhowell High School, Gwernyfed High School, The Benefices of Llyn Safaddan and the Beacons and people who had heard and wanted to be part of the day as well as many members of HBTSR who made this such a successful event. Our new friend Judy called in with Ann and area manager Nicola from Cartrefi Cymru and some useful networking happened while Judy enjoyed watching the children play. Jude and Virginia collaborated on the coffee, tea and squash. Fruits and biscuits were available on the tables and enormous quantities and varieties of cake were served by Julie,Maureen and others with cups of tea after the dancing. Thanks to Maggie, who stood in as Welcomer, we also had large quantities of take away containers helpfully given to her by Mohammed in Ystradgynlais. Mac also brought some so we were able to ensure that anything left over [ not at lot] was available to takeaway [ gratefully received]. The Cubs and others had drawn welcome signs, many people helped set up the hall including the Judo group and many people helped to tidy up afterwards. Thanks!
Sarah, ably assisted by Cushla, Oriel and friends blew bubbles and made dream pillows, Nena became an accomplished baker. So many others will have done and made things that I fear I haven’t mentioned. Sorry. This truly was a community effort and many people contributed. Thanks to Melrose, Alison, Tina and Jonny who coordinated the arrangements and to everyone who made this wonderful day possible.
Thanks to so many people who donated food both to eat on the day and to take away, to the many who donated toiletries and sanitary items [ thanks Jasper for a large donation brought by Sean] to Aldi who gave us the pick of items being thrown out which included over 30 bunches of flowers [ A luxury not usually available to people seeking asylum]. Also to people who gave household items and clothing- plenty went home to Swansea and some was left to share with others.
Finally , we always hope that our visitors will have a great day, some good memories and good food. We always say that we also get a lot from the day -which we do. There is the satisfaction of hosting, the teamwork in preparing and the ‘feel good’ factor. It is also the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends but Sunday saw several unexpected reunions including our oldest village resident meeting with a retired Macmillan nurse she’d helped to train who in turn also met up with various people she’d worked with locally. These days work on many levels and all of them good.
Message from Maria
Yesterday saw another wonderful respite day at Llangorse hosted by Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees. A collaborative venture by the wonderful folks of Llangorse and Llanfihangel Talyllyn.
We were greeted by friendly, familiar faces and met new people who had given up their time to help in some way to make the day a success for our friends. LLangorse Cubs, led by Maureen had made welcome posters which were much appreciated.
We were treated to a feast including curries, salads, cakes , fruit and flatbreads that must all have taken hours to prepare. Special thanks to Kumari , Sriyani and friends, Thanu and her husband for sharing their culinary talents with us and to Alex for making and cooking the fabulous flatbreads. We really were spoilt. Thanks to Alison Eagle for coordinating the troop of helpers and Melrose for being her wonderful, smiley self. To those helpers, whatever you did, contributed to about fifty men women and children having a relaxing, enjoyable day, where they felt comfortable and amongst friends.
Aldi was extremely generous with the donations of food and flowers. Each person was able to have a bag of food/ toiletries to go home with. How this helps those on a limited budget, watching every penny. Five bags were left over – these were given to a family of seven who have just arrived in Swansea( and were not able to join us this time) – due to a hold up in ‘ paperwork’ have no money at all. They were so pleased with the donations.
A brisk walk led by Colin, Wally and Roger to the lake was enjoyed. A young man from Kurdistan was very excited to see the mountains- he had taken a video of the journey all the way from Swansea to LLangorse! Steve the star – what would we do without you? Thanks for travelling to Birmingham to buy food from the markets at a bargain price at the end of the day. Also to Lynne Clausen and Jane Durrant for their hard work and support on the day.
After lunch, the Crannog Ceilidh band provided music and dance. So many of our friends enjoyed this. Some who said they would never dance did , and smiled and relaxed in a way we had not seen them do before. Some of our Albanian ladies obviously felt comfortable enough to give a display of their traditional dance – they may not have danced for years. Two ladies who told me they were in despair when we first arrived, were smiling and chatting by the end of the afternoon. A from Sudan said he would love to have danced but he had eaten too much!
Each respite day is unique with a different mix of people – what we can be assured of is a warm welcome, goodwill and generous hospitality. This is heartening to be a part of. There were a large number of women and children yesterday. The mothers had the chance to relax and chat while their children played safely and enjoyed having their faces very skilfully painted. Many benefitted from the donations of clothes and games. It was lovely to see the young people from the High School and those who popped in to have a chat ( apologies for not knowing all your names).
It is difficult to put into words the attributes of such a day. Again and again we hear,‘ I can’t believe it’ ‘ people are so kind’ ‘ beautiful countryside’ ‘ I forget my stresses today’
‘ delicious food’ ‘ I love the dancing, it is good fun, friends together’ ‘ I don’t know how to say thank you enough.’. Much networking goes on in these informal settings with vital information and contacts shared. Indeed it was a day of unity in diversity.
A final thanks to anyone not mentioned but whose support is appreciated.
Thank you, thank you, diolch yn fawr!
From all of us from Swansea who had the privilege of your hospitality last Sunday.