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Charity volunteer ‘moved’ as son meets Afghan refugee baby in UK

·3 min read

A charity volunteer has described the moment she felt “united” with an Afghan refugee as their babies met in the UK.

Alexandra Kenchington, 37, said the moment “moved (me) more than I thought it would”.

The doctor has been volunteering with Ems4Afghans, a community-based organisation that supports other agencies and Afghan refugees.

On September 19, she and other members of the Ems4Afghans team went to a bridging hotel to visit seven families who had been evacuated from Afghanistan, and shared a heartwarming moment with a refugee family.

“We’d been at the hotel for a couple of hours and I needed to feed Barney (Ms Kenchington’s fourth-month old son), so I took myself away from everyone and sat on a chair in the corner of the car park,” Ms Kenchington told the PA news agency.

“Not long after I sat down I was joined by this little (girl, Madiha) and her mother who pulled up a chair next to me and smiled.

“In that moment it didn’t matter that we couldn’t speak each other’s language, it didn’t matter who we were, where we had come from or what we had been through.

“All that mattered was that we were united as women and as mothers who loved our children and would do anything to protect them and keep them safe.”

When the babies stared into each other’s eyes and smiled, despite being born “worlds apart”, Ms Kenchington said she had an “overwhelming feeling of hope for the family’s future”.

She added: “(Madiha’s) a gorgeous little girl. She just kept smiling and sticking her tongue out at my little boy.

“They’re a really lovely family and seeing our children playing with their children was very sweet because kids just have such a way of not needing to speak to each other to play and have fun.

“They were playing with footballs and eating sweets and laughing and being silly together and it was really nice.”

Madiha and brother, Wais, two, with Barney, and Barney’s brother, Archer, 6 (Matt Simmons/PA)
Madiha and brother, Wais, two, with Barney, and Barney’s brother, Archer, 6 (Matt Simmons/PA)

The photo stood in stark contrast to the situation in Kabul weeks earlier, where families “spent days outside Kabul airport, had been present during the bombings and had to hold their children above their heads for hours on end to protect them from being crushed by the crowds”.

Ms Kenchington added: “(Madiha) was put over the fence at Kabul airport and she had a horrible time, that little girl.”

Some of Ems4Afghans’ initiatives include making shoeboxes with essential goods for Afghan refugees, and community support packs with messages in Pashto and Arabic.

The baby girl’s father, Sayed, worked as an interpreter for the British Army, and he and his family fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took charge.

He was helped in reaching the UK by Carolyn Webster, a councillor from Bridgend, Wales, who has successfully appealed on behalf of a number of Afghans who were initially turned down for the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (Arap) scheme.

Sayed told PA: “I am very much thankful to Carolyn and those who have helped us in all steps and they will always be in our hearts.

“We are safe and very happy now and we are welcomed warmly.”

Sayed’s surname and the location where his family is staying in the UK have been omitted for their security.

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