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Dear Friends
          At a time of great international distress it gives me enormous pleasure to share some excellent news with you. The Managing Committee gave our Unitarian Refugee Welcome Committee the go ahead to designate February as refugee month in the church, to address each of the four Sunday services on our work and to benefit from each of the four Sunday service collections. Our committee knows this community and we did have high hopes for a decent influx of much needed funds. However your generosity has really blown us away. The total amount collected at the four services and from envelopes left in the box is an astonishing 4,461. That is more than 11 hundred euros a week for 4 consecutive weeks. It really is wonderful.
          In addition we set up a Go Fund me page which was publicised through the weekly newsletter and circulated to our wider network. Again this received great support from members and their friends and through this we raised a further 3,155.
          That brings the total raised to an astonishing 7,616 in a single month of generosity.
          You might be avidly watching the arrival of the Ukrainian refugees and the promises of Government support for them and you might be wondering what our welcome committee needs all the money for. It is primarily to bridge the gap between the immediate needs of our young Afghan refugee, whom we call in public Hajira to protect her privacy, and the coming on stream of Government supports. Suffice it to say that there is a huge amount of red tape and delays in delivery. For example Hajira's housing need has just been recognised officially five months after she arrived. Without our financial support she would not have been living in her comfortable small flat in North Dublin. She would have been in the emergency centre in Mosney and not getting the opportunities she now has like : night classes; orientation visits around Dublin city; the opportunity to help the Irish Refugee council with interpretation services for other Afghan refugees and an internship in an accountancy firm. You will gather from this list of her activities that she is a very special young woman and is keen to strive towards independence and self-development.
          One of the saddest things we had to witness was her intense anxiety on behalf of her family members who are still stuck in Afghanistan in dire circumstances. We are trying to secure a visa on humanitarian grounds but it is very difficult. So we decided to take on the task of trying to secure family admission for her mother. This requires the refugee to show that they are able to support the family member for a year. Thanks to your generosity we were able to make that pledge on her behalf. We have also decided to make a small monthly contribution to enable her family members to feed themselves. We hadn't anticipated these demands and without your support it would not be possible to meet them.
          Finally, while supporting Hajira is wonderfully rewarding, it can also be very stressful trying to do our best for her and to get over the red tape and paperwork. Your beyond generous response to our appeals in February is a great morale boost for our group and really makes us feel that we have a whole community behind us cheering us on in deed as well as in word.
          If you wish to make a donation to our Go Fund Me page, please go to https://gofund.me/49cd60c8 (see back cover)

A thousand thanks from all of us.



Sheila Hanley.
On behalf of the Unitarian Refugee Welcome Committee


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