Eileen Dillon writes about her volunteering visit to Oxfam's Sanctuary in Wales project in Cardiff as part of Oxfam's See for Yourself programme for its supporters.
When I arrived at Oasis, a support centre for refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff, where I am volunteering for a week, I felt as though I had been invited into someone's home.
A local volunteer and a woman from Pakistan sat at a sewing machine making trousers together and another woman, (I can't remember what country she came from) was playing on the floor with her daughter. Helen Gubb's the Oasis women's worker funded by Oxfam invited me to a cup of tea and it wasn't long before we were all in a conversation about music.
Mondays at Oasis has been set aside as a women's only day because it has been noticed that the centre is being used almost exclusively by men. I was informed by Reynette Roberts who founded the centre four years ago that today, Monday, is very different to other days. On other days the average number of visitors to the centre is eighty. Today the centre was used by six women and their children. When the trousers were completed, the table was cleared and we all sat down together to a meal of chicken and salad.
After lunch the table was cleared again and one of the refugee women, who had been funded by Oasis to receive training in teaching English, gave an English lesson to two women who spoke very little English. One of the women came from Libya, where darker skinned Libyans are being attacked because they are seen as supporters of the former Gadaffi regime. This woman had fled Libya after witnessing her brother killed and her village ransacked.
As the Oasis child worker played with her two children and another refugee taught her English, I felt proud that my small monthly donation to Oxfam is supporting this project.
The Sanctuary in Wales project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund Wales.
To find out more about Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme, click here.