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Transform; Afghan refugee visits

It is hard to believe that it is almost two years since Kabul fell to the Taliban and the British government mounted a rescue operation for some 25,000 Afghan interpreters and embassy workers, well over 1,000 of whom found refuge in West Sussex. The horrific scenes of people falling from aircraft, being crushed in crowds or being hit by rifle buts will remain in the memories of all who saw them; scenes which had traumatised most of those arriving in their West Sussex hotels and still fearing the worst for their relatives left behind.

Although we all wanted to help there seemed little we could do as they were in the care of local governments, except of course what we did do, which was to offer them a day out in another world and give them a glimpse of a beautiful corner of their new homeland and its lovely people. We ran weekly visits for over a year when we spoiled some 15 of them for a day with tasty homemade food and visits to the marinas in Birdham and to West Wittering Beach or Bosham Sailing Club or on other themed visits. We had a volunteer group of twenty-five and were helped by many others week by week, either financially or with practical help; and we want to celebrate what for us has been a hugely rewarding experience which has made a real difference for our Afghan guests.

It didn’t come about by chance. Well over two years ago Harbour Church’s mission was reorganised and based on five T’s – tell, teach, tend, transform and treasure. Transform was about changing lives. Seeking out the oppressed, marginalised or forgotten, and doing what we could to help them turn their lives around. Our Afghan visits fell into that category and together with Emily King, Director of Communities for WSCC, a transforming plan was devised. The service on 16th July at West Wittering will celebrate the success of that plan, and recognise the love and compassion of our volunteers, and the generosity of all who helped us; as well as giving thanks to God for what we achieved through him. It will also map out the new direction our transforming Wednesday work will take as we seek to keep our great volunteer group together and inspire both them and you to continue the same work with a different group of equally deserving people, from our own community this time.

West Wittering Parochial Church of England School has kindly agreed to let us use the school playing field for parking, accessed from the beach road. Please come early.

Please note, this service will no longer be a Communion service, however there is an 8am Communion service at West Wittering and an 11am Communion service at Itchenor.

Canon Bruce.

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