By Kate McCullough
Travelling long distances with young children is never easy. None of the group of three volunteers and an interpreter expected the ride from Manchester Airport over the Snake Pass with our newly arrived refugee family to be easy. They had travelled from their home, a camp in Lebanon via Istambul … The mother was expecting her fourth child in a couple of months, and of the other children, one is disabled.
Our first piece of good news came in Arrivals, when ‘our’ family were greeted by family already settled here, in Leeds. The family’s joy at being reunited showed us how much we had in common – shared family values.
By the time they, with all their possessions, and the welcome committee, were packed into the minibus (which had been kindly lent by Notre Dame High School), it was crammed to the gunnels. The Snake Pass induced the usual response – two of the vomit bags were required; and everyone’s discomfort was increased because of distressed and crying children.
All of this changed on arrival. The family could not contain their wonder. The cupboards and fridge had been filled with salad, vegetables, chicken, flatbreads, yogurts, tomatoes… There had been a last minute difficulty with the boiler but warm water for baths was ready, and iced water because it was a warm June day…
Each of the parents was given some cash and a set of keys. The father opening the back door enquired whether the garden was theirs? Whether he could grow vegetables there?
Could this desire to put down literal roots be a good omen for their new lives? We plan to tell you more about this family, and their challenges settling into South Yorkshire in our next article.