SICAP Programme - Integration and diversity: Winter Festival

The Carlow County Development Partnership SICAP Programme was delighted to support the 'Winter Festival', hosted by Carlow Integration Forum on December 2nd in An Gairdin Beo.

 

This event was a great success with wonderful food from around the world, music, and entertainment. More than 130 children visited Santa and had lots of time to chat with him and get a small gift. A grotto was created in the garden, marshmallows were toasted and Christmas wreaths were made. There were lots of activities for the little ones and indeed for everyone. All activities, Santa visits, and the food was free to all who attended. Santa arrived in a spectacular Pink Cadillac, The garden twinkled with fairy lights and it was a magical afternoon. Special thanks to Clonmore Meats for providing the wonderful car for Santa and letting the reindeer have a rest for the big night! Special tanks to Santa for his early arrival and continued updates on his progress to Carlow. Special thanks to Kevin Kelly for the festive refreshments. Thanks to everyone who worked so incredibly hard to make this event such a success

In current Irish policy, integration is defined as the ‘ability to participate to the extent that a person needs and wishes in all of the major components of society without having to relinquish his or her own cultural identity’, thus highlighting the needs for events that allows migrants express their identity through culture, food and music.

The 2017 Migrant Integration Strategy reminds us that "successful integration is the responsibility of Irish society as a whole and will require action by Government, public bodies, service providers,businesses,NGOs but also by local communities". This event showcased the collaboration that this possible between a Local Community group (An Gairdin Beo) and the Integration Forum which supports new communities, supported by the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme. The focus of the event was to allow recent migrants to the county interact with the host community and participate in a cultural event, highlighting in this case their their own traditions and food.
The success of the event built on the excellent work being done by the Failte Isteach Programme which creates the connections and energy between the individuals who then came forward to support the Integration Forum. The warm atmosphere in the Garden was built upon the friendly informal engagement which is the characteristic of the Failte Isteach Programme.

 

 


Promoting Inclusion: Failte Isteach: Isabel's Story

 

Isabel Galetx is from Pamplona in the Basque region of Spain. In 2016 she relocated to Ireland with her husband Biktor and 2 sons and is now living in Bagenalstown. Her younger son Oihan has successfully started in St Brigid's Boys National School and her older son Ekai in the Vocational School and she has been amazed as to how quickly they have adapted to the life here and nearly speak English like a native.

"They are embarrassed of my English" she laughingly says"When they bring friends home and I try to interact with them, they tell me to be quiet, as I have such a strong Spanish accent".

The boys quickly made friends on the estate where the family is living:

"There is a football net on the green in front of the house. On the first day they were shy, but once they went out and joined in they were quickly welcomed by the other players"

Isabel got in touch with Failte Isteach in January and has been a regular ever since in the group that meets in Oak Park Community Center every Monday at 6.  She also attends the small group that has started to meet recently in Bagenalstown Family Resource Centre. One aspect she really enjoys about the classes is the big mix of nationalities.

"I am really happy to meet with all the different nationalities" she says. "At home we would not have had the opportunity to meet as many different nations as here in Carlow. I like to meet new people so I am really happy with this".

She pays tribute to Sandra, the Co-ordinator and all the tutors in the way they have made her feel so welcome from the first day. She has been inspired by the whole model and thinks that it would be great to see something similar set up in her native Spain.

Failte Isteach is a simple,  friendly,  way of promoting greater inclusion and participation in our local communities. It has the extra aspect of providing opportunities for volunteers to contribute to their communities and engage actively in society. The energy and warmth in the groups are palpable on Monday evenings and Friday mornings in Carlow and on Thursday evenings in Tullow. Feel free to drop in or get in touch if you would like to take part and do something really worthwhile.