THE KOL NEFESH REFUGEE PROJECT
The Kol Nefesh Refugee Project is the brainchild of KN member Cheryl Sklan, who had an epiphany when a refugee being interviewed on a news programme mentioned that he had never been to a British person's home. Cheryl thought, "I'm British, and I have a home. Why not invite a refugee?" Cheryl turned to fellow KN member Tanya Novick, who is active with the Barnet Refugee Service (BRS, www.b-r-s.org.uk). Tanya spoke to some of the BRS's clients, who were delighted to be invited. And so the Kol Nefesh Refugee Project was born.
Since 2017, Cheryl has been hosting groups of women refugees in her home on Tuesdays, bringing together participants from all the world's trouble spots – Iran, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Turkey, and elsewhere. Other KN members volunteer alongside Cheryl, helping with transport, logistics, and food. Still others have hosted meals for smaller numbers of refugees in their own homes, helping to forge ever-stronger links between the women and our community.
The women who take part in these events are not all alike – but they have much in common. Many have refugee status, others are waiting for leave to remain, some are struggling through the difficult appeals process. Their lives are difficult and many are separated from friends and loved ones. The inevitable stress and heartache experienced by those who manage to seek refuge on these shores is compounded by an interminable asylum process, an onerous bureaucracy, and a lack of housing. In addition, many of the women are in poor health both mentally and physically. The KN Refugee Project helps provide them with company, reassurance and a place to socialise, share experiences, practice their English, and explore British culture.
In 2019, recognising that Christmas is a particularly difficult time of year, we did something really special: held a party on December 25. The refugees are Muslims, Christians, other religions or none – but this was a day of food, dancing and fun, with no religious overtones. This project was supported through the 2019 Kol Nidrei Appeal. Extra money raised went into the general Refugee Project pot, covering travel costs and other necessities. It’s worth noting that travel alone for 20 people coming from all over London can easily be £200/week.
For more information, or to get involved, please contact Cheryl Sklan, firstname.lastname@example.org,
The 2019 Kol Nidre appeal is to raise money for food, entertainment & presents on the event Kol Nefesh is hosting for refugees on Wednesday 25 December. This date is especially difficult for refugees who may have no family nor friends nearby, and who are often stuck in bleak accommodation with no access to TV whilst the rest of the country celebrates. They are further isolated by the lack of public transport.
Volunteers from KN will be needed on the day – Wednesday 25 December – to help with catering & entertaining our guests. Drivers & cars will also be needed to collect & return the participants from various points across North London. Please let us know if you want to participate in this extension of KN’s project for refugees. Contact Cheryl Sklan (email@example.com), Tanya Novick (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Brenda Simmonds (email@example.com).
Update: Huge thanks to all our volunteers for making this party such a success (as you can see in the photos above)!
Volunteers are always welcome during the year. Please get in touch if you'd like to be involved.