ON Friday 6th March, starting at 7pm at the Kildwick and Farnhill Institute, local resident Maggie Tookey will talk about her work as Field Director of the international relief agency Edinburgh Direct Aid (EDA), helping to support refugees around the world.

EDA has worked in many countries, both in natural disaster regions such as after the Indonesian tsunami of 2004 and the Pakistan/Kashmir earthquake of 2005, but also in areas of conflict like Bosnia and Kosovo and Gaza and, since 2014, the Lebanon/Syria border.

The work of EDA takes many forms – providing emergency shelter, urgent humanitarian aid deliveries, reconstruction of houses, provision of education and healthcare in difficult and remote regions, and vocational training for refugees fleeing their homes in war zones like Syria.

Maggie said: “All these trainees live in harsh conditions in tented camps but they have this opportunity to learn a skill – in this case learning the basics of fitting a domestic electricity supply into new buildings.

"They have theory and practical sessions then follow a three-month work experience programme in the town.

"Other courses include basic computer skills, sewing and rug-making, First Aid, mobile phone technology, plumbing and motorbike maintenance. The refugees are able to leave the claustrophobia of their tents to socialise and learn. All courses are open to both men and women.

"In the last few weeks the border town of Arsal has been hit by extremely severe snow storms with temperatures down to minus 15 degrees at night. Some children have died of hypothermia – the refugees can’t afford much heating oil for their tent stoves and are only protected by thin plastic sheeting, so EDA has been distributing oil, potatoes and bread to the highest marooned camps but we simply can’t help everyone – it’s always the babies and the elderly who suffer most, very sad for all of us. We just do what we can.”

An Institute spokesman said: “We hope that as many people as possible will come to Maggie’s talk, hear about the remarkable work this local woman does to help refugees, and help to support the charity she works for.”

Admission to the talk will be £5 and will include refreshments. The proceeds will be split between the Institute and Edinburgh Direct Aid (www.edinburghdirectaid.org).