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The kindness of strangers


One evening in early March members of the Pipers community were privileged to participate in a truly inspirational event - an opportunity to hear first-hand testimony about the harrowing reality of life as a Syrian refugee and how hope can triumph over despair.

At the evening, which was supported by, and planned with, Amnesty International of High Wycombe, The Wycombe Refugee Partnership, and our own girls’ Amnesty group, we were joined by two families who have recently arrived in High Wycombe from the war-torn Syrian cities of Aleppo and Damascus. Representatives from the local charities who have been working to welcome and support them were also present to take part in a question and answer session.

There was also an exhibition of work by Year 9 pupils who have completed research projects on either a figure from history or a member of their own family who had to leave their home country because of war or persecution.

We heard from three speakers who each spoke of their individual struggles as they were force to flee their home countries. All three of the speakers talked about the feeling of being surrounded by kindness in the UK and how grateful and humbled they had been by the support they had received. They also all spoke with passion about their desire to give something back to their adopted country.

The final speaker for the evening was Toni Brodell, a member of the House of Lords task group on Syria and refugees and advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Syria, particularly in relation to besieged communities. Toni spoke about the work of the Wycombe Refugee Partnership and about how all of us can make a difference. She focused on her belief that positive individual acts have the power to completely transform our world and that everyone can do something to help whether that be through acts of volunteering, fundraising or simply awareness raising of issues.

Mr Gifford, Head of English, who organised the event, said “When I first saw grainy photographs of the faces in the rafts on the Mediterranean, I wondered what on earth would happen if our girls and community could meet and talk with those clinging to their lives. And how could a meeting ever practically be possible? Tonight we found out: hugs and tears, greater understanding, an inspiration to act and make a difference in whatever field, and, on both sides, the Kindness of Strangers.”
Published: March 20 2017

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