Fingal Ethnic Network celebrates a decade of integration efforts
2019-01-01 12:10:55 -
Integration
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By Princess Pamela Toyin

 

The Fingal Ethnic Network’s (Fen) end-of-year event to mark its 10th anniversary was an opportunity to celebrate integration and diversity, having fulfilled its core obligation of integrating organisations and groups within the Fingal area of Dublin over the last decade.

Fen has served as “a good tool to bring different ethnic groups together to empower and educate them in various ways and basically making integration process very easy”, said Jagan Muttumula of the Ireland Telegu Association.

Muttumula described Fen as a thread which combines and connects all of its member organisations and ethnic groups to make the “FEN necklace”.

Kesava Marepalli, chair of Fen, added: “Addressing the gathering celebrating Fen’s 10-year anniversary was a combination of passion and honour for me as the chairperson. As I looked at the audience, I saw examples of our history and our future. Fen’s association with each of the member group is a cherished and priceless accomplishment.”

The end-of-year event in December at Swords’ Carnegie Court Hotel – which attracted executives, entrepreneurs, Fen partners, friends and well-wishers – “showcased the power of diversity … to celebrate the milestone of working and collaborating with various ethnic groups within the Fingal area,” said John Oghenetano Uwhumiakpor, founder of Family Mirror.

Former Fingal Deputy Mayor and current TD Jack Chambers said it was “a great honour” to attend the anniversary for a network that is “doing Trojan work in Fingal. They continue to build on their positive network around integration in our community, and I was delighted to meet with many of the members at this event who have built the network from the ground up.”

Current Fingal Mayor Anthony Lavin was also in attendance. Addressing the gathering, he congratulated Fen members for their achievement.

On what prompted the Fen initiative, Nuala Kane of Empower, whose work is to support groups like Fen, recalled: “There were lots of migrants coming in at the time and everybody didn’t know how to react to what their needs or issues were, so Fen was formed to invite people to meetings so they could identify and prioritise their issues and then decide how they were going to respond to those issues.”

Since that time, Marepalli added, “we have seen a lot of growth in terms of member groups joining FEN and engaging with community more proactively in Fingal area in a way that will help them.”

Fingal County Council, Empower, New Communities Partnership and Cairde were some of Fen’s strategic partners represented at the event. Numerous active member groups were also present including Rekindle Talent, Children 4 World Children, Echoes and the Romanian Community of Ireland (RCI) among others.

“Being part of Fen proves to be an immense of professional personal value. On a personal level, I get to meet like-minded people from very diverse backgrounds which I realise I share common values, common ideas, and common ideals with,” says Rares Mihai Nicula, Fen board member representing the RCI.

Another board member and cultural development officer of Fen, Rao Hanumantha, noted that one of the network’s achievements was to initiate its Intercultural Day, now a yearly celebration. Hanumantha said he is proud that the event affords member groups to learn and experience each other’s culture.

“Fingal processes diversity in different forms,” said Michael McLoughlin, an artist in residence at Draiocht Blancardstown. “It is multicultural in a way that no other county in Ireland is.”

The day also saw Fen appreciate some of its founder members with awards for their commitment and service to the community over the last 10 years. One of the recipients was Dotun Donald Adegbesan, a long-standing member who has contributed immensely to Fen’s success.

Dotun, founder of Rekindle Talents, said: “I am happy Fen appreciates my selfless efforts in making sure we have effective integration in Fingal. It is an encouragement to double my efforts towards the fulfilment of Fen objectives.”

Projecting where Fen might be 10 years from now, Marepalli said: “If all the voices of ethnic community groups are raised through single channel like Fen to address key strategic issues and policies, it would be a great achievement.”

“I see Fen more structured in 10 years with more people involved,” said Kane, while Adegbesan believes Fen “will be for a new generation, and societal issues peculiar to that time will be addressed by people of that generation.”

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