“The Lord will always guide you, giving you relief in desert places.”
Catching up with Hassan-Ali
We pick up the story of Hassan-Ali three years later. Unfortunately, Hassan-Ali’s immigration case hasn’t progressed much and he is still being supported by JRS UK. Many of our friends can spend long periods living in the situation that Hassan-Ali has described.
For all our refugee friends at JRS, there has been a significant change in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life just as much for them as it has all of us. Our refugee friends have been unable to visit the charities and centres which they relied on for support, whilst living through the same destitution and hostility they faced before.
Many, like JRS, have adapted their services, but as Hassan-Ali explains, there is something lost by not being able to meet in person: “[At JRS] normally the staff approach the asylum seekers, approach everyone and talk to them or sit and eat with them…. the staff will go to them to find out how they are keeping and find out about them as they come to me, too. And then so now during COVID-19, we are missing this. We’re missing this gathering”.
In this season of Lent, we imitate Jesus’ journey into the desert through our observances. However, this past year may already have felt like a time in the desert, due to the separation all of us, including Hassan-Ali, have experienced.
Reflecting on the words of the prophet Isaiah, where have you felt the Lord guiding you and bringing you relief in these difficult months?
During this pandemic it has been clearer than ever just how much we rely on our smartphones to keep in touch with loved ones. Access to a good quality phone is important for our refugee friends because it is their link to accessing legal advice, emotional support and other assistance. It can leave someone incredibly isolated if they try to navigate this system without a mobile phone because it has been confiscated by a smuggler on their journey or seized by Immigration Officers when they arrive in the UK.
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