‘Belonging’ is a powerful lens to view integration in D15
2017-06-15 10:36:28 -
The ‘Belonging 17’ event was held at the Mulhuddart Community Centre in west Dublin earlier this month.
And the day showcased a display of cultural traditions through art in the form of face painting, costumes, food, music and dance.
Comprising mainly people within the Dublin 15 area, the outdoor events had to move indoors to avoid the intermittent showers but turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable regardless.
“It’s an amazing idea getting the whole community together,” said Marilyn Reilly, who lives in the locality. “It’s good to have children young in age so they know because something or someone is different, they’re not any better or worse.”
The notion of ‘belonging’ is a powerful lens by which integration of immigrants can be viewed. It’s this sense of collective belonging that plays such a vital role in immigrants new way of life in their host countries. 
When the Community Foundation for Ireland last year awarded Children4WorldChildren a grant to organise a street party, co-founder Wunmi Excel and her team decided to do a survey among young people in the Dublin 15 area to gauge how immigrants and natives in the community alike really felt.
“Most young people don’t have a sense of belonging and don’t take ownership of their own community,” said Wumni.
“With the survey, we realised 25 per cent of young people feel lonely, isolated and not connected. That raised our curiosity and we said this issue has to be addressed.”
This year Children4WorldChildren collaborated with the likes of Show Racism the Red Card, St Vincent de Paul, Jigsaw Blanchardstown and the Fingal Film Festival, all of which were represented on the
day to lend their support.
“I am really delighted because young people have the opportunity to interact directly with people that provide them with services in the community,” said Wunmi. “We also brought in the government represented in the Mayor of Fingal County Council, St John of God Ambulance, community gardaí, a local dentist, etc to identify the problems of young people.”
Speaking at the event, a delighted Fingal Mayor Eithne Loftus said: “Communities like this keep us together. I am so pleased to be here to celebrate and it’s so wonderful people have worked so hard for the communities.”
One of the event organisers Bunmi Bress, locally known as ‘MC lovely’, compered with Mikey Dee (Mike Du Plooy), a South African singer and motivational speaker who helps young people in setting life goals.
Bunmi believes the event was one of the best Dublin 15 has had in years.
“The children that entertained with various performances, ranging from singing to dancing, were particularly outstanding,” he said. 
The presence of Gardaí Kevin Flatley and David Shorthouse working locally indicated the importance of the Garda-community relationship which reflects community values in the work of the Irish police service.
In his short address to the crowd, Garda Flatley stressed that An Garda Siochana was proud to be a part of such an event, which he said “illustrates the talent that young people possess if they are encouraged”.
The garda added: “If problems can’t be solved, there are representatives in the community that can help.” 
He also advised that parents “should spend quality time with their kids and talk to them about issues affecting them and the family.” He attributed this as an essential ingredient to keeping the family strong and improving mental health.
Along with local resident Olubukola Ashaolu Shopeju, Balbriggan-based pastor Thywill Bankole addressed young people on essentials of belonging to their community, especially since they comprise the majority of residents in Dublin 15.
Olubukola noted that the event was a very positive development that enhances community growth, building unification within different ethnic backgrounds and promoting integration throughout the community.
“I am encouraging youths not to limit themselves but to develop their environmental needs for self-inspiration, self-motivation and self-determination,” he said.
These attributes, Thywill said, will help their integration process - and Marilyn Reilly agreed.
“Everyone is the same, and the youths should feel as being part of the group,” she said. “Not thinking they’re alone gives them confidence.”
Princess Pamela Toyin has gained experience since the mid 1980s working in various fields and interacting with people of different tribes and ethnicity. With her passion for diversity, she is propelled to
report a diverse range of issues that facilitate intercultural dialogue and integration, which can change social, economic, and cultural stereotypes, and believes there are lessons to be learned from everyone. Talk to her on +353 (0)87 417 9640 or email echoesmediainternational@gmail.com
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