Ragtag Saturday: Asylum – from Kurdistan to Leeds

Ripon is a City of Sanctuary: one of many cities throughout the UK proud to offer a place of safety, sanctuary and support to those fleeing violence and persecution.

At a recent meeting of the group, an asylum seeker from the Kurdistan region of northern Iran told her story. I’d like to share it with you.

X is an intelligent young woman with a loving and close extended family. After school, she went to University to study, and met the man she went on to marry.

As they began their lives together, they began to question their Muslim faith. They took their doubts seriously. They looked at other world religions, like Christianity. They prayed, they read, they trawled the net in search of answers.

One day, their house was raided. They came home to find their computer taken, their books in disarray, and anything dealing with religion also taken. They knew they were in danger.

Family members rang up. ‘You need to go. Quickly. Don’t bother to get stuff together, or get your affairs in order. Just go.’

So they did. First of all, they went to Germany, then England, where they spent about a month in the prison-like surroundings of an asylum seekers’ detention centre. They were advised to find someone in England who would be prepared to act as a sponsor. Somehow, X’s father found someone in Sheffield, and that’s where they went next.

I don’t really know the next bit of the story: only that she spent a great deal of time under the care of the NHS before they ended up in Leeds. And that’s where they are now. After more than two years, their application for immigration status has still not been heard, so they live on their allowance of £37.75 a week each which covers everything apart from housing: their food, household needs, clothing, transport, fuel and heating…..

They’re intelligent and highly qualified – X’s husband is an engineer, she a business studies graduate, and both of them have learnt English from scratch whilst being here. But neither of them is allowed to work. They would like to. They’d like to be tax-paying and contributing members of British society. Instead they draw their meagre benefit and do voluntary work and eke out a precarious existence, not knowing what will happen next.

X has had a break. The University of Bradford has offered her a place, and a scholarship open only to asylum seekers to read for a Foundation year in medicine. She’s grateful to the NHS and wants to give something back .

I have no photos to illustrate this story. Instead, I’ve chosen a gallery of images from Unsplash to try to help us all imagine what she thinks of when she remembers the life she has lost in Iran: her family, the countryside and townscapes, the culture she has left behind. She must have complicated feelings: grateful on the one hand to be safe; fearful of the future; homesick for her family and former home, and the life she thought she and her husband were preparing for; excited by her new opportunity; worried about money – all the time, and about their asylum application.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is Sanctuary.https://wp.me/p9YcOU-nq

To view the gallery full size, click on any image.

Ragtag Saturday: Three months of trying…..

Maybe it’s time for a Zoë update. You remember Zoë. She was the baby granddaughter who couldn’t wait until her due date of October 25th, and frightened us all half to death by being born on August 7th instead.

She’s getting on for six months old now. Corrected though, she’s only just over three. She spent astonishingly little time in an incubator, was out of hospital before she hit 5 pounds in weight and has been doing well ever since.

All the same. In her early weeks, she did little but sleep, eat … and grow. Her milestones are those of a late October baby. She still spends a lot of time sleeping, eating and growing, but now she’s adding skills daily. She discovered how disarming her smiles could be. And now, she’s putting in energetic sessions trying desperately hard to biff at the toys hanging from her baby bouncer. Such an effort! But so rewarding when she lands the telling punch.

This is my contribution to today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: effort.

Ragtag Saturday: Frosted fields

It was -3 degrees in the night. It was still -3 degrees, at nearly nine o’clock in the morning. But I started my walk anyway. Right here in the garden, next to this hellebore.

Here were the pleasures of scrunching through crisp, frosty grass.  Through small puddles, frozen solid.  Watching long shadows extend the trunks of trees across the width of a field.  Sheep doing their best to scratch a breakfast from the hoary grass.  Bracken with delicately rimed edges.  A car on the roadside, blinded by Jack Frost’s artwork.

The sun rose and despite the cold, quickly burnt off the chilly white from the fields. The newborn lambs, which I’d hoped to spot in West Tanfield had been kept indoors – I could hear their plaintive bleating in  barn.  Instead – winter blossom, catkins, and a sky-blue sky.

This is my contribution to Ragtag Daily Prompt: Frosted.  And though I walked on a Wednesday, posted on a Saturday, to Jo’s Monday Walk.

As ever, to view any image full size, simply click on it.

Washday

I’m a simple soul. Watching a line of clean washing blowing and tugging on the line on a sunny, breezy day is one of life’s small pleasures. Gathering up the clean dry clothes and sheets at the end of the day, and burying my nose into the pile for that incomparable fresh smell of clean washing is another.

Perhaps this is why, when I’m in Spain, I’m a sucker for shots of long lines of clean washing draping from a balcony, or hanging from a sagging line on some tall apartment block.

And that is my angle on why I’d never have a tumble drier in the house, Ragtag Daily Prompt readers. Damp-and-refusing-to-dry washing is much more my cup of tea.

 

Ragtag Saturday: Foraging in Valencia for marmalade in England

One of the joys of being in Valencia was walking down streets and through parks lined with orange trees.  It’s orange season right now, so they were looking at their best.  They’re bitter Seville oranges of course, the ones we use for marmalade.  Juicy sweet ones would probably be too much of a temptation for passers-by.

Orange trees in Valencia.

Last Sunday though, when we were walking in the Turia, we spotted fallen fruit under many of the trees.  A forager by nature, I couldn’t leave them there to rot.  No, we had to gather them, so that when we returned home, we could have a very special souvenir of our holiday.  Home-made marmalade, cooked from fruit gathered in Orange Central: Valencia.

I can’t show you the finished article.  The marmalade is simmering on the stove as I type.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is: cook

P.S. …..

Ragtag Saturday: Three Kings visit Barcelona

Today is the day when the Three Kings – the same ones who visited the infant Jesus – begin their journey to visit all children in the Spanish speaking world to deliver presents to them. We watched the Carnival parade they brought with them as they passed through Barcelona earlier this evening. Dancing, singing, exhuberant and imaginative displays had us enthralled for an hour or more. It was never like this in biblical times, I’m sure.

Ragtag Prompt: Three. https://wp.me/p9YcOU-lb

Ragtag Saturday: Frost

Winter childhood meant cold and frosty mornings, barely daring to get out of bed to shiver while washing in an icy bathroom, before returning to an equally icy room to muffle up in a vest, a blouse, a cosy cardigan and a sensible pleated skirt. Little girls didn’t wear trousers in those days and tights didn’t seem to exist, but I don’t remember my legs resenting being bare between sock-top and skirt bottom. But then boys of my age were wearing short trousers too.

I remember Jack Frost too. He had spent the early hours of the day sketching dizzyingly complex and beautiful patterns in luminous white on the inside of my bedroom window. It’s rare to see these intricate motifs on house windows these days. But the other day, arriving early in town, I passed a car park full of vehicles exhibiting examples of his artistry. I had to take a shot or two.

Today’s Ragtag prompt is: White