THE 'HOPE' EXPERIENCE

By Rosalia D. Basada


Through the years I have met friends and I have been involved in many organizations. One of my ministry is with the Ujamaa women's group which is a part of the ‘Hope Projects Organization’. The organisations’ work is to support and empower asylum-seekers and provide emergency short-term accommodation for destitute and homeless people.

When I started volunteering at the Hope Projects the women’s group were engaged in sewing and knitting. Over time its services developed from providing support and training to providing information regarding policies and integration and advocacy work .

The women's group as a support group for the women provides opportunity for socialisation, building of friendship and sisterhood. It is also a forum where the women share the challenges they face each day and struggles they experience on their asylum application process.

As for myself, it has been a real blessing and privilege to have been able to volunteer in this project. I have interacted with women from different cultural and faith backgrounds. It has been a humbling experience. One of my favourite activities with the women was the last Tuesday of the month gathering. We cook our traditional dishes and share a meal together. This day were at sometimes marked with birthday celebrations or an announcement of ap-proval from the government for a ’Leave to remain’ (LIR) status, (an immigration status granted to a person who does not hold the right of abode in the United Kingdom (UK), but who has been admitted to the UK without any time limit on his or her stay and who is free to take up employment or study without restriction). When there is an announcement of the LIR status, I could see happiness in everyone’s faces. Cheers and wishes of congratulations were extended to the person.

Recently we had our first Inter-cultural day. It was organised for ourselves and the Hope Projects supporters. Everybody wore traditional costumes, we shared traditional food, we danced and sung songs to entertain ourselves. During this celebration, it was also a moment for them to say farewell to me as they know I would be leaving soon. I felt heartened to hear their kind words and receive a gift from the group. I know how little they have but they managed to contribute to buy me a gift which I didn’t expect at all. Their generosity and thoughtfulness touched my heart.

To have been able to ‘hold the hands’ of the women during the long waiting time of asylum application pro-cess and during their happy moments of being granted ‘leave to remain’ status or having access to a temporary accom-modation, has changed my outlook in life. It allowed me to become a more selfless person. a better person. The great-est lesson I gained in journeying with the Hope Women's group was, to value to each person without judgement and love them as they are no different than I am.

My experience working with the Hope Women's group has deepened my spirituality as a missionary. Their faith has enriched my faith. I find it so touching when they would ask me to pray for good results on their asylum appli-cations or when they feel depressed or ill. Despite the difficulties they have gone through in their lives they remain hopeful. The possessed an inner strength. Their faith has shown me to be more thankful of the small things I have in life and for being called to participate in God's mission in Britain through the Columbans.

I thank God for giving me the wonderful opportunity to be part of the work of the Hope Projects Organisation. As I conclude I also pray for God’s blessings upon all women who are suffering any form of violence and hardship in life.

(This article first appeared in Laycom, September 2016)

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