Monday, 14 December 2009

Something you can do for a child this Christmas

There are almost 700 members of the Facebook Group trying to save Florence and Precious Mhango from detention and deportation. So I'm finding if my time is limited, I'm updating the FB members rather than the blog - I have substantially fewer than 700 readers!

However, now that I've got broadband at home I will be able to do both and I wanted to make everyone aware of something you can do to help Precious - if you've been following this you'll know she's a ten year old girl who's been in the UK since she was 3. If you've not, you can read through various posts by searching "Mhango" on this blog.

I became aware at the end of last week that Precious is not doing too well right now. Understandable and you would expect that particularly given recent reports about what detention does to children's physical and mental wellbeing. But Florence hadn't wanted to worry me and had simply told me Precious was fine.

Visitors to Yarls Wood told a different story and when I asked Florence she filled me in. I won't go into detail because I feel very uncomfortable publicising this wee girl's thoughts and feelings. I won't feel the slightest bit uncomfortable if they eventually get deported and I will tell the whole story if that happens.

For now though I will tell you that this wee fragile, waif-like ten year old lost 5.5 kilos in the first 3 weeks of detention. That's around 10lbs. I would think that was pretty serious for any child but she'd not a pick on her to start with. The bit I won't go into detail about for now is that she's really very down and not in a way that any child should be.

So, on the Facebook group we asked people to send cards to Precious to let her know that they are thinking about her. It occurred to me (and I should've thought about this sooner) that she must be feeling very cut off from the outside world. Well she's not now!

They've been receiving cards and wee gifts from a variety of different people. Precious told me she got a book, a teddy, a sketch pad and she was quite excited about that. But the thing that seemed to matter most to her was the cards and the lovely messages inside. When I spoke to her on Saturday her voice was stronger than I've ever heard it. She's got a very sweet voice, a Glasgow accent of course but she's only ever spoken in whispers to me. So to hear her sounding a little more confident and a little less scared was lovely. (So lovely that I could barely speak myself, had to pretend the signal was bad!).

So please, write to them. As I'm about to say in my next blog post we just have not got a clue what's going on. They could be in Glasgow later this week, they could be in Yarls Wood over Christmas, they could even try to deport them before then. Perhaps it makes them feel powerful to keep everyone in the dark, who knows! But whilst we're fighting tooth and nail to get them out of there, please write to them knowing that your words are making a huge difference. If you want to check this blog before posting, I promise the minute I hear they are out of there I will let you know.

Don't get me wrong, it will take more than this to undo the damage but right now, Precious needs just to keep going, keep surviving - and we can help her do that.

If you want to send a present, anything is fine except food and drink.

The address is:

Florence and Precious Mhango
Yarls Wood IRC
Twinwoods Road
MK41 6HL

Thank you!

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