Rainbow of cultures
A rainbow of cultures, costumes and stories were celebrated along with song, dance and food for World Refugee Day.
Hundreds gathered at the Palmerston North Conference and Function Centre on Saturday to watch performances from young and old, to celebrate their mother tongues, wear traditional clothing, recount their stories, remember traditions and share foods from their home lands.
The Palmerston North event was one of many held throughout the world this week to mark the day and show support for those who have been displaced from their own countries by commemorating their journeys.
Groups took part from Myanmar, Bhutan, Congo, Afghanistan, Palestine, Myanmar and Syria.
Deven Rei, one of the organisers, said it was encouraging for refugees to have their journeys traced and recognised, and their pasts remembered.
‘‘The whole concept of this programme is to reflect back and see how we’ve spent our lives in refugee camps, and how well we can do in the future.
‘‘It’s a celebration, but on the other hand it’s seeing what has happened in our past, and how long we’ve come on our journey.
‘‘Coming to a new country is
‘‘Coming to a new country is another big challenge and we are giving thanks to the adopted country.’’ Deven Rei, Refugee Day organiser
another big challenge and we are giving thanks to the adopted country.’’
The crowd enjoyed seeing some hidden performance talents uncovered, he said.
Julia Ta was among of a group of eight from Myanmar who performed a karen dance. The dance of celebration is often performed at New Year to celebrate new beginnings.
‘‘It’s very important to do this, to celebrate culture. I enjoy doing the dancing, and it’s good to share our food and speak our language,’’ she said.
Among the traditional dishes from Myanmar Ta was most looking forward to enjoying was traditional sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves.
This year, the day fell within Ramadan, when Muslims fast, so a table of food was set aside to be enjoyed after dusk, Rei said.
The event was held by Manawatu Refugee Voice and the Red Cross.
Amina Muhammad Juma, left, and Taskeen Jafari, from Afghanistan, watch World Refugee Day celebrations.