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Shaftesbury Refugee Group – AGM Report

The Shaftesbury Refugee Group's AGM has been cancelled but here is a report from Sarah Mais:

It is hard to believe that our lovely families have been here for over two years now. I am very happy to say that this year we have amalgamated with the group from Gillingham and so we now have three families in this area, all of whom have become good friends to us.  Our two original families moved house towards the end of last year - one now lives in Gillingham and one remains in Shaftesbury.

The children of all three families are doing incredibly well both at school and college.  They have picked up English as only children can! To mention one notable example, Malak who will be moving to secondary school in the autumn, came in the top five pupils in her SATS tests this term.  The boys have moved to Gillingham schools and have had good reports, both academically and in sport and are obviously well liked by staff and pupils.  Through the generosity of our donors, we have been able to fund some educational school expeditions.  I would also like to mention the generosity of Gillingham senior school and Abbey School, Shaftesbury, who have both subsidised other school journeys.

During the year the three fathers have passed both oral and practical driving tests… the mothers won’t be far behind!  English lessons continue twice a week and there are one to one conversations happening, also on a weekly basis.  Atef started a job this month, Imad is also working whilst Ammar is still struggling with health issues.  However all the adults are doing a food hygiene course this month and there are hopes that this will lead on to something permanent in the food business with their delicious Syrian recipes.

Baby Ahmad was born to Samar and Ammar a year ago.  He is absolutely thriving and a joy.  He strides around the house now, negotiates himself back and forth on the rocking horse and is trying his best to speak!  However he communicates astonishingly well with his eyes and is definitely the master of the house with his sisters acceeding to his every whim!!

We are now see ourselves as friends rather than volunteers and love time spent with them.   Although there is much support from various people employed by Dorset Council there are still many day to day problems where we are called on for help.  We are learning to get the balance between encouraging the families to become self sufficient and making sure we are definitely here for them as and when needed.   They love having visitors and are as generous and welcoming as it is possible to be.

Our funds are somewhat diminished after some hefty expenses over the last year.    We feel we need to maintain these reserves to cover inevitable crises and needs and are therefore hoping to do some fund-raising later in the year.

We are so grateful to all our supporters , friends/volunteers and donors and look forward to watching future triumphs and  achievements.