Chaplaincy goes international - YMCA DownsLink Group

Chaplaincy goes international

Zoom call to Afganistan

Elly McKay-Smith, our East Sussex and Guildford Chaplain, reflects on the wonders of technology as she was able to share an amazing moment with the families of two of our Afghanistan residents. Within our housing services we support a number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) who need somewhere to live after fleeing persecution and making the perilous journey to safety. Although we do all we can to support them here, its important to remember they have loved ones left behind…..

Elly takes up the story:

“We took Chaplaincy to another level this week, clearly DownsLink Group doesn’t cover enough ground in just Sussex and Surrey, we have gone international. This week I was privileged to chat via video calls to two families in Afghanistan to reassure them that their family members were safe and well.

Despite the fact we didn’t really have much of a verbal conversation, I managed, through the wonders of video call, to show a worried Aunt that we were cooking food that looked familiar and that the food would be eaten as a community. It was clear she was thrilled to see our resident as she was introduced to his new friends. Cousins were ushered to the phone and there were lots of giggles as we communicated with broken languages and smiles.

In the second call a resident who was cooking with me was thrilled to find I had brought halal lamb kofta (meatballs) to be cooked, after a conversation the previous week when he had expressed a longing for them. He rang family in amazement and delight “Look they have kofta in England”.

How lovely to be able to reassure family and friends that they are safe and well, despite arduous journeys. The love of Kofta might seem superficial but it brought comfort and an understanding of acceptance and being welcomed. As I drove home that night I once again thanked God for the privilege of working with such amazing young people.”

To find out more about how we support unaccompanied asylum seeking children read Ali’s Story


YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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