Kimberley Community Out In Force To Support Meaford Refugees

There was a hint of spring on Saturday evening and on the steps of Kimberley Hall, down at the bottom of the Beaver Valley, the bagpipes of Michael Findlay resonated through the village calling people to gather for the celebration.  It was the special fundraiser organized by the Meaford Refugee Welcome Group, promising a variety show with an array of local talents.

The MRWG had been formed a year and a half ago with the goal of bringing a Syrian family to our community to escape the violence of their homeland.  Just over a year ago, Hanan and Rajab Al Sheayer came to Meaford with their four children.  Since then they have settled into the community with the children embracing school and mom and dad completing a year of ESL courses and starting a business selling their delicious Syrian food.  Now the support group wants to bring Hanan’s sister and her family here as well from a refugee camp in Lebanon where the children  of the camp sell flowers and gum to try to eke out a meagre living.  There is some urgency to this effort because the youngest boy in the family is suffering from cancer and his life might be saved by access to the cancer treatment centre at Sunnybrook.  If sufficient funds can be raised by the end of this month, it means the family can be brought to our community this year.  The event on Saturday night in Kimberley was designed to bring the community together to raise awareness and funds to make another miracle happen.

The hall filled with bustling neighbours early in the evening, soon reaching capacity.  Before the music even began there was a sense of celebration.  The enticing aroma of Syrian food, prepared by the Al Sheayers and offered free to everyone, filled the hall, along with the excited murmer of conversation.  Master of Ceremonies and one-man technical crew, Chris Scerri, hustled to set up the sound system.

The early part of the evening offered a succession of singer-songwriters with the emphasis on youth.  Songwriter Greg Smith, who is quickly establishing a reputation for his unique story songs, started off the evening, playing with enthusiasm and joy even though his songs were somewhat buried in the acoustics of the room and the audience conversation.  He was followed by Abby Woodhouse who was last year’s winner of GBSS Idol.  She sang a number of country covers and her version of “I Fall To Pieces” was particularly impressive, coming closer than most singers can to the emotive power of Patsy Cline’s original.  Isaac Goodings followed with a strong performance of originals mixed with covers.  Then, to cap off the solo acoustic part of the evening there was a big jump in age when Bill Monahan sang a few originals and got the crowd pumped up with a rousing version of “Jambalaya” and a Bo Diddley song.  Things were hopping from then on.

The exciting rhythmic sounds of klezmer music from Broken Bagel Scene had people up and dancing in the few spaces available.  That was followed by some piping from Michael Findlay, a couple of songs from Michael O’Connell, and then East Back Line, the band built around the songs of Paul Allan and David Marshak from Beaver Valley, with Beaker Granger on drums.  They had everyone dancing.  Chris Scerri joined them to sing some songs at the end of their set, Hartley from Broken Bagel Scene joined in and the evening climaxed with a jam of “I Shall be Released”.

It was a big success for everyone concerned and brought the Meaford Refugee Welcome Group closer to their goal.  If you missed it, you can still contribute through a tax deductible contribution by cheque to:  Christ Church Anglican Meaford, with MRWG in the memo section.  Christ Church Anglican, 34 Boucher St E, Meaford, ON N4L 1E3.

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One Response to Kimberley Community Out In Force To Support Meaford Refugees

  1. Francis Richardson says:

    Thank you all for a truly fantastic evening and your support for the Syrian families. What a talented and caring community we have!

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