Shepparton News

GIFTS FROM THE HEART

SHEPPARTON COMMUNITY OPENS HEARTS FOR DEVASTATED AFGHAN FAMILIES AND OFFER SUPPORT

- By John Lewis

Community hub leader Liz Arcus and her many friends have been sewing hundreds of felt hearts as gi s and symbols of care for Shepparton’s Afghan community members, following recent violence in their home country.

It’s a simple gesture, but a genuinely heartfelt one.

When Hobart-based counsellor Sarah De Jonge founded the 1000 Hearts project five years ago it started as a way of helping people through tough times.

The idea of sewing a small pocket heart from wool felt and offering it to people a symbol of compassion, care and kindness took off.

Little felt hearts have since been sent across the world — to people impacted by the Orlando nightclub shooting, the terror bombing in Manchester and the Grenfell Tower inferno in London. Thousands of hearts have also been sent to charities, services and individual­s who need a bit of love.

Last year, Community Hub leader at St Georges Rd Primary School and Shepparton English Language Centre Liz Arcus and hub community members took up the challenge of sewing little felt hearts for people struggling through the first lockdowns.

Now, they are being sewn for Shepparton’s Afghan community to be given as gestures of compassion and support for the awful stories and pictures coming from their home country since the Taliban took control less than three weeks ago.

“Our Afghan community is really hurting at the moment. They’re suffering and feeling helpless — worried about loved ones and family members.

“Some have very close family members that are still there. These are people they have not been able to get here for many reasons,” Ms Arcus said.

Ms Arcus said she is receiving phone calls and messages at all hours from Afghan community members.

“They are just devastated not knowing what will happen next,” she said.

Ms Arcus gave the first heart to a young man affected by the events in Kabul.

“I put it in his hand and he looked shocked. Then we sat and talked for a long time and I could see it meant a lot to him. I asked him if this could help others in his community and he said they wouldn’t expect to receive anything — but it would let them know they are cared about,” she said.

Ms Arcus said nearly 500 hearts have now been sewn by volunteers and community hub members from different background­s.

She said as soon as restrictio­ns allow, the pocket hearts will be delivered to homes and individual­s in Shepparton’s Afghan community.

“We just want to send them a message that we know they are hurting, and that we want to send them love and that there’s many people who have spent hours sewing hearts and thinking of them,” Ms Arcus said.

She said the project was still ongoing, and that if anyone wished to contribute or find out more they could phone her on 0407 861 303.

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 ?? Pictures: Rodney Braithwait­e ?? Flying the flag: This tiny heart bears the colours of the former national flag of Afghanista­n, which has been raised recently as a symbol of defiance to the Taliban regime.
Pictures: Rodney Braithwait­e Flying the flag: This tiny heart bears the colours of the former national flag of Afghanista­n, which has been raised recently as a symbol of defiance to the Taliban regime.
 ??  ?? Support: A message in Hazaragi (above) and in Dari (right) to be given out with the little felt hearts: We are sorry to hear what is happening in Afghanista­n, we are thinking of you and sending love.
Support: A message in Hazaragi (above) and in Dari (right) to be given out with the little felt hearts: We are sorry to hear what is happening in Afghanista­n, we are thinking of you and sending love.
 ??  ?? Warm-hearted: Liz Arcus and friends have sewn nearly 500 woollen felt hearts to be given to Shepparton’s Afghan community as symbols of love and solidarity.
Warm-hearted: Liz Arcus and friends have sewn nearly 500 woollen felt hearts to be given to Shepparton’s Afghan community as symbols of love and solidarity.

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