Christmas lunch with a refugee
04 January 2017
Zagreb, 04 January 2017 – Twenty Croatian families opened their homes on Christmas and hosted 50 refugees for a Christmas lunch as a part of Jesuit Refugee Service South East Europe (JRS SEE) campaign “Christmas lunch with a refugee”. The intention of the campaign was to encourage social interaction between local communities and refugees and asylum seekers in Croatia.
"We believed that the Croatian families would accept our invitation and everyone we spoke with was very happy to get a chance to express their welcome to people in need from other cultures and traditions. This initiative was a call for a concrete action; open your door to a refugee; let a foreigner into your home which you have created with the people you love. It is an act of hospitality. Without hesitation, without asking anything in return. In confidence against fear," said JRS SEE director Tvrtko Barun, SJ.
Sameer from Afghanistan who currently lives in the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb said that he and his brother found new friends in the family who had invited them to Christmas lunch.
"When we fled Afghanistan, I left behind my parents and friends, I left my life. I did not think I was going to find it here again. Today, after a long time I did not feel like a stranger,” Sameer said.
A young family of musicians from Zagreb, was one of twenty families who immediately responded positively to the invitation to host a refugee in their home. They said it would be an honour to have refugees in their home and that it is the least they can do for people who are alone in this town, so far away from their families and homes.
“I often see asylum seekers at the main bus station because I sometimes play guitar there, so their faces are not unknown to me. But I did not know their story, do they have anyone in Croatia? Today I am glad that they have me and my family. I believe that this will become a tradition, and that we will spend next Christmas together,” said Ivan.
The “Christmas lunch with a refugee” is a part of the project “Assistance to Beneficiaries of International Protection and People in Detention Centre Ježevo” funded by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
When we fled Afghanistan, I left behind my parents and friends, I left my life. I did not think I was going to find it here again. Today, after a long time I did not feel like a stranger.