Advent calendar opens window on world of refugee children

Dave HallByDave Hall

Advent calendar opens window on world of refugee children

Last Advent, hundreds of children across the UK sent messages of friendship to refugee children. 

CRE National 2019 exhibitor Embrace created a Children’s Alternative Advent Calendar where, behind each door, children followed the story of ten-year-old Sami and his family who fled Syria because of the war. 

‘Refugee children often feel forgotten,’ said Embrace’s event manager Kerensa McCollough. ‘They don’t know what has happened to their friends, pets and extended family, and they see their exhausted parents struggling to provide food and shelter.’

Each day the calendar reveals a little more of Sami’s story.

‘On one particular day, we asked children to write, colour and send us a postcard with messages of friendship and love which we promised to pass on to Syrian refugee children living in Lebanon,’ said Kerensa.

Hundreds responded and this spring, Heather Stanley (pictured), Embrace’s individual giving and communications manager, visited an after-school club in Lebanon.

‘I was so thrilled to pass on the “thank you” and “we love you, too” messages,’ she said.

The Children’s Alternative Advent Calendar will be available on Embrace’s stand at CRE, along with lots of other Advent gifts and resources for you and your church. 

‘Every penny you spend on the calendar supports our Christian partners in the Middle East who provide vital items to refugee families,’ explained Heather. ‘They were able to give away life-sustaining rice, hygiene kits, warm hats, gloves and pairs of sturdy shoes.

‘And our Christian partners are also running healthcare centres, schools, and after-school clubs for refugee children who otherwise would be missing out on their education. The difference you make buy simply choosing our calendar, is amazing!’

‘In a world focussed on “getting”, Sami’s story reminds us that Christmas is about giving hope,’ said Rev Mary Hawes, national children and youth advisor for the Church of England.This Advent calendar offers a practical way to give and learn at the same time.’

• Embrace are on stand S151 at CRE National 2019

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Dave Hall

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