DCSIMG

Thank you letter from Khartoum

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A Sudanese family caught up in the Everglades firebombing last month has written an open letter to the people of Londonderry to say thank you for the kindness and concern shown to them.

Tanya Abdalla wrote to the Sentinel after returning to Khartoum from Londonderry which her family had visited for the funeral of her grandmother.

Ms Abdalla says the hotel staff and management, the PSNI and others went out of their way to help her family, including re-entering the hotel to retrieve essential medication.

“I am writing to show immense gratitude to the people of your city, who showed us great kindness and support recently,” she wrote.

“I mention specific names, and these particular acts of kindness, but we were impressed that all the people we encountered during that night and the next day of the funeral showed great sensitivity, and treated us so well.

“They just wanted to do whatever was needed so that we could simply focus on the importance of the day, to pray for my grandmother, and to give thanks for her wonderful life.”

“My dear grandmother would be so proud of the city for its care and compassion for us.

“In these days, where bad news and acts of hatred are given so much prominence in the news, we thought it just and proper to share this with you, and to publicly thank the people of this city.”

The following is the text of the letter in full...

Dear Sir,

I am writing on behalf of all my family and friends to express our immense gratitude to the people of your city, who showed us great kindness and support recently.

We were a large party of Sudanese who were staying in the city on the sad occasion of the burial of my late Grandmother. We were staying in the Everglades hotel, and were caught up in the terrifying attack on the hotel on the night of Thursday, 29th of May.

Apart from the physical threat from the firebomb (and we give thanks to God that no-one was injured) this caused great distress to the children in the group, and some danger to elderly relatives who were evacuated without essential medicines. We were left standing in the night in the clothes we were wearing, with a funeral mass and burial scheduled for the next day. Relatives and friends were frantic with worry as news of the attack emerged and people tried to establish whether we were safe.

To this point, this sounds like just another sad incident in the city’s recent history, but there is another side to this story that we feel must be told. Within minutes of the attack, and before the firebomb even went off, people came to our aid.

The hotel staff, despite being in a state of shock themselves, immediately tended our needs. The manager of the hotel, Neil Devlin, opened his home to us while they made arrangements for transfer to the City Hotel.

A police officer entered the building, at personal risk, to retrieve urgent life-saving anti-rejection drugs. Others ferried relatives overnight to Altnagelvin and elsewhere to obtain other essential medicines such as insulin.

The regional operations vice-president for Interstate Hotels, Ciaran O’Neill, made a series of arrangements at the City Hotel to insure that people had beds, and that the post-funeral reception could be relocated to there. Furthermore, he arranged next morning with Micheal Jack, manager of the Custom House, to relocate a private family dinner. That morning the Everglades Hotel staff arranged for us to retrieve clothes and belongings just as soon as it was safe to do so.

I mention these specific names, and these particular acts of kindness, but we were impressed that all the people we encountered during that night and the next day of the funeral showed great sensitivity, and treated us so well. They just wanted to do whatever was needed so that we could simply focus on the importance of the day, to pray for my Grandmother, and to give thanks for her wonderful life.

My dear Grandmother would be so proud of the city for its care and compassion for us.

In these days, where bad news and acts of hatred are given so much prominence in the news, we thought it just and proper to share this with you, and to publicly thank the people of this city.

Finally I would like to share with you this prayer which we said for you at the funeral mass:

“We thank God for the safe delivery of those caught up in the events of last night. We remember in our prayers those across the city who reached out to us and helped us in our hour of need, including the staffs of the Everglades and City hotels, City centre businesses, the police and medical services. May God continue to guide their hands and may He bless those working for peace and reconciliation in this town that Nana loved so well”.

Tanya Abdalla

(on behalf of the Abdalla

family of Khartoum, Sudan)

MORE ON THIS STORY...

- 45 firefighters tackle blaze at Everglades

- Campbell calls on Donnelly to condemn Everglades bombing

- ‘Fire-bombing an attack on jobs’

 

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