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.

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