Heja, her husband Jutyar, baby Lauand and Liz haven’t known each other long, but they are family. Maybe not a traditional family, but there’s a lot of love here.
Liz came along to one of our community events at Firstsite a few months ago and met Heja, a young mum from Iraq. Since then, the pair have struck up an unlikely friendship – Liz visits Heja at her (immaculate!) flat in Greenstead and plays with the children, 4-year-old Lawi and baby Lauand.
Liz loves spending time with the kids as she desperately misses her own grandchildren – both her sons and their families have moved abroad. Now she has little people to spoil with presents and take to the park – Lauand is such a happy little soul and Lawi is a treasure. Getting to know the family has also been enriching – conversation isn’t easy due to the language barrier, but it’s always interesting and Liz is learning about Middle Eastern culture – particularly the generous hospitality! Even while Heja was fasting for Ramadan, she brought out coffee for her guest, with Kurdish cakes she’d bought in Ipswich.
Heja lives away from the support network of her family and friends in Iraq, which is tough for anyone, let alone a mum. Liz waved to Heja’s own mother on Skype one day, and she hopes that it was reassuring to see her daughter has people around her that care – just as Liz worries about her own grown sons! With her husband at work all day, Refugee Action-Colchester provides help with childcare so Heja can attend English lessons, and she is able to practise with Liz. We’ve seen Heja grow more confident in her English and in making friends since she began meeting up with Liz.
For Liz, Heja and everyone involved with Refugee Action-Colchester, the organisation is about finding community and creating a family of people to support each other. There’s always somebody who could do with a friend. If you’re interested in being a befriender like Liz, then come along to our community event on the first Friday of every month at Firstsite, and get chatting!
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