Even the best efforts of Storm Freya couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm – or the welcome – at Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees’ return visit to Llangors at the weekend.
The village hall played host to visitors who hope to make a new home in Wales and more than 50 volunteers aged three to 93 helped to make the day a success, with games, crafts and food and a walk around the lake.
HBTSR's Ailsa Dunn said: “Among all the joyful enthusiasm it can be hard to remember that for many of these people life is not often happy.
“They are living with past painful memories, in a ‘hostile environment’ where their reasons for needing safety in Britain are disputed, denied, and old traumas raked over time and again to worsen stresses and depression.
“However, for occasions like this they all rise to the occasion, ensuring that we know that we have made a difference, have provided good hospitality and leaving us all with some very happy memories.”
The 45 visitors were welcomed with drinks and snacks, before the children settled down to clay, make flowers,dream pillow cases [ Draw what you want the world to be like and sleep on it] and table football.
“Meanwhile the intrepid adults led by birthday boy Colin Preece ventured to the lake,” said Melrose East, HBTSR Trustee and coordinator for the day .“Some may say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes and it would be hard to dispute that on this showing, despite some people being soaked to the skin. One visitor from Zambia, with a beaming smile, gently reassured me ‘I’m alive, I’m free – this is glorious’.”
The walkers returned in time for lunch, which was a selection of vegetarian stews and salads provided by people from Llanfihangel Talyllyn and Llangors, together with flatbreads made by and with Alex Benfield.
The Crannog Ceilidh Band set up while everyone ate and people were treated to songs from Venezuela, Pakistan and a variety of film-inspired choices from children. The Band managed to get almost everyone up to dance whilst those who didn't dance made tea and put out cakes.
Thanks to the generosity of local people, Aldi, The Coop and Llangorse Church in Wales Primary school, there were gift bags of toiletries and groceries for everyone who came and also for people back in Swansea at the drop-in support groups. Visitors were also given posters made to welcome them by pupils from Llangors Church in Wales Primary School, asking them to enjoy themselves, know they were loved and not to be afraid to speak out.
“It was a wonderful day and there were so many people who helped to make it happen,” Ailsa said. “Our thanks go to Melrose, Alison, Tina and Penny for coordination. Jonnie, Mike, Paul, Becky, Liz, Ann, Chris, Lex, Rose, Bernie and others for kitchen duties, Sue, Avril, Ellen and others for crafts. Lynn Clausen from Raven Drama for face-painting. The Coop in Hay and Talgarth and Aldi for kind donations of food. The people of Llangorse and Llanfihangel for generous help and donations and Llangorse Church In Wales School for the welcome posters and donations. "
The final words of gratitude come from one of our visitors who wrote afterwards to say
"Today was so wonderful I can't really quantify it. The warmth and presence by such wonderful hosts. I forgot I nearly couldn't come because I couldn't get myself out of bed. I've been stressed and depressed about my own situation yet being out there today felt like nothing really mattered in the world! Thank you so so much for working hard so that those who are in my position can have one beautiful day and feel cared for! I feel like I count!"