Redhead: Men’s Shed helps refugees feel at home

Redhead men have acted as would-be surrogate grandfathers for newly arrived refugee families preparing for their first Christmas in Australia.

Members of Redhead Men’s Shed spent the four months leading up to Christmas 2014 handcrafting wooden toys for 10 Afghan women who attend weekly English lessons at Penola House and have 14 children among them.

‘‘Many of these families arrived with very little,’’ said Penola House volunteer Marilyn Deas.

‘‘The children’s eyes lit up when they saw our toys and we wondered what we could do to help.’’

President Phil Lindsay, Vice President Steve Evans, and the men presented to Redhead Anglican Church 5 jeeps, 6 racing cars, 3 rocker cots, 6 doll high chairs and 5 wheelbarrows.

Such thoughtful, handmade gifts will mean so much to the refugee families.

‘‘They were carefully made with love and weren’t at all like anything you could buy from a shop,’’ Marilyn said.

‘‘Hopefully the women will feel the welcome, warmth and love that’s in each gift.’’

These gifts will not only bring smiles to children but will build bridges across cultures, show welcome and love when acts such as these are so much needed to counter other negative treatment of people coming to our shores.

Most of the women are the wives of men who served as interpreters for the Australian Army.