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Love and Light

Region 5 - Working with the Refugees & Asylum Seekers in Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle Sai centre started spending quality time with the refugees and asylum seekers, sharing food, around 5 years ago at the West Gate Baptist Church, Newcastle upon Tyne. This soon became popular amongst the group and a typical curry and rice session had around 75 people enjoying the food in the church. Spending time with them helped us to delve into their world and build strong relationships with them over a period of time. Furthermore, it helped us in understanding their needs and requirements better. We then started getting other utilities like crockeries, toiletries, heating equipment etc. for them. By Swami`s grace, we were able to furnish the houses of 4 families who received the “status to remain” in the UK permanently with furniture, bed, electrical items etc.

A couple of years later we realised that the permanent solution for all their problems will be to help them find jobs or start up small businesses. This took us into a whole new set of tasks involving CV building, job search, preparing them for interviews and most importantly helping them find inspiration from inside them to work through Swami`s teachings. What we realised in the process was the fact that the government can help in showing the “list of vacancies” for them but they have to get the inspiration from the God inside them to come out of their existing lives. They got the yearning to change their life by working hard for their future, with His grace. Some of them have not worked for 8-10 years in a row since entering this country as a refugee. Swami, in His own way, inspired them to work their way out of problems through their own hard work.

By Swami`s grace, 18 people have secured jobs in various companies including Nissan, Convergys, Burberry (factory) etc. and 5 of them have started their own businesses like “take-away” and beauty parlours. We have been able to support them in preparing business proposals and also identifying business enterprises who offered them advice from a qualified accountant and a solicitor “free of charge” for the first half an hour. This really helped them give a structure to their dream which would have remained a dream but for Swami.

We have been able to offer simple financial advice and also support their children with advice on education, different education loans for Universities, studentships, courses etc. Since many of these families were from war-inflicted countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Congo, we found that the behaviour of the some children was not normal like others. So a session with a Child Psychologist was arranged and she identified some issues with certain children through simple games. Since then, the parents have started taking help from NHS for their children.

The work has ensured various associations between our Sai centre and the local Councils, Churches and the Mosques in the area. Newcastle Sai centre has been recognised as the “centre working for peace and harmony in the community” by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle for the last 3 years in succession. Going into the fifth year since starting this initiative, whenever we reflect on this activity, we feel humbled because all that we could see is our Divine Mother always doing the entire work and attributing its success to His children. With Swami`s grace, we hope and pray that this initiative continues for the time to come and may we be made His instruments in His work.