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Courtown Diversity Day brings people from across the community together to share in music, food and conversation

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Cllr Donal Kenny (Cathaoirleach Gorey Kilmuckridge Municipal District) pictured with some of the attendees at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell.

Cllr Donal Kenny (Cathaoirleach Gorey Kilmuckridge Municipal District) pictured with some of the attendees at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell.

Pictured at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Garda Sinead Garrity, Djifa, Garda Keith O'Farrell, Gilbert, Garda Supt. Denis Whelan, Mbuso, Paballo, Garda Pascal Carley. Photo: Jim Campbell

Pictured at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Garda Sinead Garrity, Djifa, Garda Keith O'Farrell, Gilbert, Garda Supt. Denis Whelan, Mbuso, Paballo, Garda Pascal Carley. Photo: Jim Campbell

Cllr Joe Sullivan, Linda Sinnott (CCC), Garda Supt Denis Whelan, Craig Lang (RCC), Garda Sgt Neal Daly, Philip Knight (District Manager, WCC), Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, Cllr Diarmuid Devereux were pictured at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Photo: Jim Campbell

Cllr Joe Sullivan, Linda Sinnott (CCC), Garda Supt Denis Whelan, Craig Lang (RCC), Garda Sgt Neal Daly, Philip Knight (District Manager, WCC), Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, Cllr Diarmuid Devereux were pictured at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Photo: Jim Campbell

Catherine Reid and Kate Ryan attended the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Photo: Jim Campbell

Catherine Reid and Kate Ryan attended the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Photo: Jim Campbell

Sofiane, Louise Whelahan, Mobdin, Kelvin, Movrad, Baba, Mohammed Gesis, Asadullah and Gilbert were at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell

Sofiane, Louise Whelahan, Mobdin, Kelvin, Movrad, Baba, Mohammed Gesis, Asadullah and Gilbert were at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Hussein Isse and Mohammed Abdi. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Hussein Isse and Mohammed Abdi. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Maeve Wall, Shannon wall, John Wall and Marie-Louise Byrne. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Maeve Wall, Shannon wall, John Wall and Marie-Louise Byrne. Pic: Jim Campbell

Enjoying the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Kevin Lynch, Jenny Lynch, Lauren Lynch and Clodagh Walsh. Pic: Jim Campbell

Enjoying the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Kevin Lynch, Jenny Lynch, Lauren Lynch and Clodagh Walsh. Pic: Jim Campbell

Pictured enjoying the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Eimear, Aoife, Anthony and Claire O'Connor. Pic: Jim Campbell

Pictured enjoying the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Eimear, Aoife, Anthony and Claire O'Connor. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Louise, Lorraine, Jody and Ken Nolan with Sammy and Poppy. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Louise, Lorraine, Jody and Ken Nolan with Sammy and Poppy. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Yaovi Eyram Dabla, Hayrtullah, Azat Ullah and Asa Dullah. Pic: Jim Campbell

At the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday were Yaovi Eyram Dabla, Hayrtullah, Azat Ullah and Asa Dullah. Pic: Jim Campbell

Louise Whelahan (Receptionist, Courtown Hotel), Harry Sykes and Nicola Morris (General Manager, Courtown Hotel) enjoyed the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell

Louise Whelahan (Receptionist, Courtown Hotel), Harry Sykes and Nicola Morris (General Manager, Courtown Hotel) enjoyed the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell

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Cllr Donal Kenny (Cathaoirleach Gorey Kilmuckridge Municipal District) pictured with some of the attendees at the 'Diversity Day' in Courtown Harbour on Wednesday. Pic: Jim Campbell.

goreyguardian

A diversity day aimed at promoting integration and inclusion in the community saw a large crowd of people from across the globe share in food, music and conversation in Courtown last week.

Courtown Diversity Day was the second event organised in the Gorey area with the intention of connecting members of the Ukrainian community and residents of the Courtown Hotel with other people living in the area. Community Development Officer with Wexford Local Development (WLD), John Kelly hopes such initiatives can help to bring people from across the community together in a positive way.

“We like to create opportunities for people to come together, to look somebody in the eye and shake their hand and realise they’re just like you. So that’s what the purpose of today is – to bring people together and focus on the positives,” he said. "We want to make sure that, from the start, we set a tone of inclusivity, of welcoming. If you had to go to someone else’s town, what would you like them to do? So that’s what we try to think about. It’s about empathy and putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes.”

John, who works with the residents of Courtown Hotel, said that they are eager to connect with and get involved in the community.

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“They themselves have been asking for a long time how can we meet people in the community. It can be difficult sometimes to form those friendships. Food and music will always bring people together. You fill their belly, you fill their soul.”

For Dmytro Isaiev who moved from Eastern Ukraine in April, the community event helps him to feel at home.

"I enjoy these events very much because it is basically what we did at home. Even the food is very close to what we did,” explained Dmytro, who currently lives in the Tara Vie.

"It’s absolutely lovely here, sometimes even too good. The people are great and it’s very relaxed. You can’t really think about bad stuff when you are here.”

Mbuso Sigola from Zimbabwe describes himself as ‘a freshman’ in Courtown, having only lived there for five months. Since arriving, he said his experiences have been largely positive.

"The most amazing thing here is the people. They’re very welcoming people and that is one thing I have realised about the community here. The people are friendly, they’re full of love, they are free, and at the same time, they’re excited and willing to learn new things from us and we are willing to learn things from them as well.”

Pabalo from Botswana echoes his views, saying that the community has been very welcoming to him since his arrival in April.

“They are willing to help us get into the community, learn the place, know where to go and where not to go. They have been so helpful. For now, I can say, I have nothing to complain about,” he said. “Last week we attended the Gorey festival. Every place we went to, people were talking to us. They were asking us if we were experiencing any racism, and we said we are experiencing nothing like that. Some people even went to the extent of offering to buy us a drink.”

Gilbert Khumalo, who arrived last October from Zimbabwe, said that the events like the diversity day are positive experiences.

"It is always good to meet people, especially in places like this.”

Djifa Dabla from Togo also feels that such events allow him to integrate into the community.

"It allows us to meet people and share some experiences about our countries.”

While people danced and chatted by the seafront in Courtown, several people focused on keeping the crowds fed by cooking up a constant supply of food. One of them was Sufian El Gahmi, who moved to Courtown with his family from Libya in 2019. 

"Events like this are good for the community and society as they help people to connect with one another,” said Sufian, who now lives in Dublin but speaks with great fondness about his time and the community in Wexford.

Client Support Worker with WLD, Salah Haddad, takes a break from the heat of the grill to talk about the events and what lies ahead.

“There are more events coming up to Christmas. Hopefully, we will have three or four. We will keep it up. Our aim is just to get everyone to feel comfortable and feel that this is their community, this is their society. A feeling of belonging is very important so this gives them a sense of belonging.”

While everyone on the day comes with their own stories and backgrounds, John said it is not the focus of the event or the work that WLD does with the new community members.

“We don’t ask about people’s backgrounds. If people choose to talk about it, we will talk to anybody but we don’t ask,” he said. 

"Instead, we take it that we are all together at this moment in time, so let’s try to make it a positive experience for everybody. We can all learn together and grow together.”

Approximately 90 people of 15 nationalities are living in Courtown Hotel, according to Salah. This includes people from Somalia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among other places. Meanwhile, the Tara Vie Hotel and wider community is currently home to many Ukrainian families.

"A lot of the refugees here want to integrate. They’re looking to get involved in things like the Tidy Towns and other community groups. This is a chance for them to meet the people who can help them to integrate,” explained District Manager, Philip Knight. “In many ways, these kinds of events help people to feel more comfortable around one another.

We are trying to let them know that they’re supported and seeing what we can do to support them as a community.”

Courtown Diversity Day was supported by individuals and groups across the county including Wexford Local Development, Courtown Hotel, Courtown Community Council, Places of Sanctuary, Wexford Volunteer Centre, Courtown Tidy Towns, Wexford County Council, Riverchapel Community Council and Wexford Garda Division.


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