Refugee friends, volunteers, supporters, hosts and the whole JRS team joined together on Saturday to enjoy a fun day together and celebrate this unique community.
The day started with the delivery of an array of Ethiopian food, salads and an authentic halal mixed grill. Meanwhile, members of the team were outside in our colourfully decorated garden cooking grilled corn and offering a selection of plantain chips to arriving guests.
A queue quickly started to form for face paints, and children were soon running around as butterflies, fairies, and lions – whilst the team were recognisable with their glitter-striped cheeks. In the Elliot Garden room, friends were starting to discover the photo booth and thoroughly enjoyed dressing up with various props and receiving a selection of printed images to take home.
Once more guests had arrived, a magic show commenced – with items appearing and disappearing in unexpected places. Looks of awe were shared between adults and children alike.
Before we invited our gospel choir and band to perform, Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK, made a speech proceeding one of our well-known friends, of whom has been working with our new legal team since March and has been granted leave to remain after 27 years of navigating the UK’s legal system. This was a moment of true celebration, faith, hope and inspiration to everyone listening.
“Today is a day of celebrating, for having fun, for being together, forgetting our problems and just enjoying our friendship with one another – that is what you give to us all year round. This is one of the opportunities where we can say thank you. We love working with you and we love all that you do for us.”
Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK
To finish the party, the gospel choir had the entire room singing, dancing and clapping. And just as we thought the celebration had ended, a birthday cake was brought out from the kitchen – followed by a special announcement that it was one of our friends’ birthday. The choir sang and the birthday girl enjoyed the attention that she deserved.
Moments like this are incredibly special here at JRS UK. We share the global mission of JRS to accompany refugees. It is our experience that through accompaniment we affirm that God is present, even in the most tragic episodes. One way we live-out this mission, is by also sharing episodes of joy and celebration with our refugee friends; moments of compassion, laughter and togetherness.
The Summer Party granted us the opportunity to celebrate our refugee friends as individuals and experience true, meaningful encounters. It was a day of true joy and affirmed that God is present in the lives of all those who we serve.
JRS UK are only able to organise days like this thanks to the presence and generous donations of our supporters.