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Welcome Festival 2017

2-300 people attended our Welcome Festival on 16th September, including about 75 refugees and asylum seekers. The event was a great success, introduced by a refugee and an asylum seeker. in English and Arabic.
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The Mayor of Todmorden, Councillor Christine Potter, welcomed everyone and gave an excellent speech which we hope to be able to publish.
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John Kemp spoke about Bardy, who passed away this year and who had for many years worked for Freedom From Torture and supporting Together We Grow. John Andrea, who was married to Bardy, spoke about the charity Bardy set up: Survivors of Torture Activities Fund (STAF).
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We then had Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) singing some songs they themselves had written. Their last song ended with many of us getting up to dance and sing together.
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Next up was Enas Aljabi, who is 14 years old and a refugee from Syria. She sings in Arabic, Turkish and English as she was a refugee in Turkey for a long time when her family fled Syria.
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Mohiddin Aljabi then sang in Arabic. He is well-know in the Arabic world and has performed for the BBC, etc.
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Anthony Brannick played short pieces of Western classical music from Bach to Bartok with a short introduction to each piece.
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During all the performances there were activities for the children downstairs in the Central Methodist Church: arts & craft workshop, games, face painting and a singing workshop led by Helen and Louise Curtis-Streich.
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At the end of the singing workshop the children, Helen and Louise came upstairs in the hall to perform two songs.
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There were stalls from Red Cross, Calderdale Freedom from Torture, Survivors of Torture Activities Fund, Together We Grow, Valley of Sanctuary and St Augustine Centre.
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When the audience left the building they gave donations of £407.13. Many thanks to everyone who donated.
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All the refugees and asylum seekers were given a lunch before the start of the festival, prepared by Hilary and friends from 3 Valley Vegan. Volunteers from the church helped preparing the lunch, drinks, cakes, etc and worked hard with the washing up, cleaning up after the festival, etc.
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So special thanks go to Hilary, to the many volunteers who helped out on the day, to all the performers, to the Mayor and to to St John Ambulance for being there during the festival.

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