On Friday 9th December, Women for Refugee Women held its first annual in-person Christmas party since 2019!

It was an occasion for the refugee and asylum-seeking women in our network to come together, share their work from this term and celebrate the end of the year. There were performances from the drama group, poetry readings, a hot meal prepared by Elahe and lots of singing and dancing!

The drama groups shared several performances they have worked on this term in their weekly Friday afternoon sessions at the Southbank Centre, including an original performance that was written, directed and performed collectively by all members of the group, consisting of a chorus of statements of affirmation, power and dignity as a way of challenging the hostile environment.

“I am strong! I am powerful! I am formidable! I am a kind mother! I am unstoppable!”

Next, was a beautifully delivered and choreographed group performance of Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ followed by a performance by Chichi Coco of a song she had written and composed herself. 

To close, several members of the group performed dances from different cultures that included Salsa and traditional Afghan and Turkish dances.

After, our trustee Loraine Mponela shared poetry from her debut collection ‘I Was Not Born a Sad Poet’ (2022), including the titular poem ‘I Was Not Born a Sad Poet’. Published earlier this year, the collection reflects on Loraine’s experiences navigating the UK asylum system.

The performances and readings were followed by a delicious hot meal prepared by Elahe, a refugee woman from our network. It was wonderful to  catch up and chat with each other over a Christmas meal, followed by more singing and dancing!  

Thanks to the generosity and kindness of our supporters, each woman went home with a gift bag, including a £25 gift voucher, a selection of beauty products and toiletries, and a handwritten Christmas card.

With the onset of the winter cold and darkness, this time of year is especially harsh for refugee and asylum-seeking women, made even more difficult this year by the cost of living crisis. Our Christmas party was an important moment for the women in our network to come together to celebrate the end of the year with their friends.

We owe our thanks to our community of dedicated supporters, without whom the party and our work more broadly would be impossible. Thank you again!