Each year, the Jesuit Refugee Service becomes overrun with balloons and bunting. Tables and chairs are borrowed from local parishes, and the faint smell of a BBQ slowly drifts through the air. The annual Summer Party is excitedly anticipated by the refugees we serve, as well as the volunteers and friends of JRS. The celebration offers an opportunity to take some time away from the challenges of day to day life and be thankful for one another.
Praying that the sunshine would last, we invited our refugee friends and their families, volunteers (old and new), and friends of JRS to join us in the celebrations. We had fun for all the family with an array of activities such as face painting, a photo booth and a magic show. Parents were able to relax as their children were endlessly entertained by garden games such as hook-a-duck and a scalextric powered by bicycles. And there wasn’t a chance of going hungry as we had some delicious local BBQ and traditional Ethiopian dishes, alongside fresh salads prepared by our Day Centre chefs.
The highlight of the day was when, after a few words of thanks from our Director, Sarah Teather, one of our refugee friends spoke of how much the opportunities that JRS provided meant to her. She shared how JRS had allowed her to become involved in activities that would otherwise have been unknown to her. Sharing her thanks, she said: “When you come here it is as if you are at home, you feel at home … on behalf of every one of us here, we say thank you and may God … bless every one of us as we celebrate.” Everyone was then invited to raise their voices in song as Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir led those gathered through a number of different gospel songs; bringing a joyful end to the celebrations.
The day was a huge success and enjoyed by all who came.