Syrian friends reunited at latest HBTSR away day

A farm in a small mid Wales village was the unlikely setting for a reunion for two Syrian friends who had lost touch with each other during their flight from the war-torn country to Europe.

The friends, and their families, had been together at a refugee camp in Lebanon but did not find each other until Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees’ latest away day in Crai. One family now lives in Newport, and the other in Swansea. They had no idea of where each other was and were amazed and delighted to meet up.

More than 80 asylum seekers and refugees from South Wales’ three cities spent a day at Aberhyddnant Farm, hosted by owner Liz Matthews, a lay worship leader in the Blaenwysg  Benefice, and family, HBTSR and many local volunteers.

As well as arts, crafts and a tour of the farm, the event also featured its own South Wales derby, as visitors from Cardiff and Swansea took the chance to have a game of football.

Guides and Brownies, together with local people, had donated bags of toiletries for the visitors to take back with them, and the day was rounded off with an impromtu ‘sing off’ between Eritreans and Syrians.

HBTSR’s Ailsa Dunn said: “People will have so many great memories of the day. My favourite was seeing the Syrian friends reunited. Their joy and their smiles at meeting will stay with me for a very long time.

“Another good memory is that a film crew sponsored the buses that brought the party from Newport and they were so excited to see such wonderful community involvement in  welcoming strangers into the countryside.

“HBTSR wants to thank the Matthews family and friends who made this day out possible, our increasing number of supporters who contribute in so many ways and our visitors  from Swansea, Cardiff and Newport who came and made the day so special.”

You can find out more about HBTSR, which has just been awarded charity status, and its away days at http://hbtsr.org.uk/  or on its Facebook page at facebook.com/groups/1481176695519368/