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25th Christmas Fair - for Mercy House

Back in the early 80's Penny and Mick Finn held a Christmas Bazaar - and have never missed a year! Judy and Gerald helped channel the parish goodwill towards Diana Beamish and her refugees at Mercy House in Johannesburg.

Gifts donated from all over the parish were there to tempt buyers - assembled and stored for weeks by team members at home.

The chair of Knights of St Columba - and his lady - helped donors stock Christmas drinks cupboards.

Raffles always contribute a good proportion of the final total.

Delicious home baked cakes completed the line up. Sessions on Saturday and Sunday gave every Mass-goer a chance to shop.

Upstairs, bric a brac and collectables drew the buyers. Soft toys to cuddle. Nostalgia for grownups - or bed mates for children (and no batteries or keys needed!)

Buyers found bargains galore - Francis picked up handsome volumes, including Jane Austin's Letters.

Like all parish gatherings, the party conversations keep colleagues - and our parish priest - up to date.

Diana sent a portfolio of crystal clear photos with her new digital camera - her clients now well known to the parish - especially Kaskil, now with wife and baby, originally sponsored for training by St Richards.

One of Diana's most poignant stories concerns Jimmy, a survivor of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 - whose family were butchered by the hostile Hutus when he was just 8 years old. They beheaded them and even cut open his mother, who was pregnant. He escaped but was severely injured, and left for dead on a heap of corpses. He helped bring the murderer to justice but had to leave Rwanda because of vengeance seekers. He came to Mercy House, one of many such cases, and has found peace and support ever since. Donations from the Christmas Fair - and afterwards - will help him and many more. In Central Africa the killing never ends.

The fair raised over 1,000 with more donations known to be on the way! Fr Kieron reminded us - "the GB pound buys a great deal more in South African Rands, as Diana's letters make clear."

And Diana's immediate and warmhearted reply was "thank you - and more stories to come from next review".