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Echoes of Christmas

Diana Beamish has sent us pictures and reports on progress at Mercy House.

Christmas was uplifted by a lunch funded by a donation from St Richard’s. Diana says they wrapped 70 gifts and invited past residents and all refugees who come from outside to celebrate with them. They had a visitor, Abbey Rudland, on a round-the-world trip, fresh from the British Refugee Office, and briefed about Mercy House by David Rang.

The Christmas play featured residents like Shadadi, from Burundi, and now the Angel. Around were Mary and Joseph on the steps of the office and three kings and shepherds around them.

Father Christmas arrived snowless, landing perilously on the roof of the garage but a ladder brought him safely to earth.

For the New Year, Diana needed reinforcements for her team. At the end of 2003, she’d lost two young volunteer missionaries – Amy from USA and Kasia from Poland, both had to move on. A young lecturer from Witwatterstrand University left for Rome to study for the priesthood. Diana prayed. "Our Father in heaven is certainly not deaf!" Then came two "wonderful surprises". Early in the New Year, a sister of the Little Sisters of Jesus, from Sri Lanka, joined the team. She is helping orphans with school uniforms and mending, assisting residents with their cleaning etc. "We call her our housemother."

Then another offer came from a volunteer mission worker from Ireland who heard about Mercy House through an e-mail from Poland from Kasia. She will help with school work. Another young graduate from a French university – in sound engineering – will assist too. Two other young men will come on Saturdays to take our young boys to play soccer. Diana’s core team is herself, Sister Fidelis of the Assumption, and Susan, from England. We have Catherine Downey and the picture shows another Catherine, who visited from St Richard’s Parish last year.

The houseleader is Kaskil who starts a nursing course in March – financed by the collection held in the Parish in December - thanks to the thoughtfulness of Penny Finn and the “magnanimity” of Father Kieron. Kasil is shown doing a 3 month preliminary course. He’s the second man from the left.

"So – many thanks to all St Richard’s parishioners for your wonderful and encouraging support of our work. Three cheers for you all and especially also our Father Kieron."

Diana Beamish

(A new e-mail from Diana reports three new arrivals. An Angolan boy of 14, found in the street. He was abandoned by a family and had no one to feed or care for him. He’s now at school. On 31 January two youngsters arrived from Sudan. No money, no food – nowhere to live. They fled from enforced army service, after torture. Now they’re part of the community.)