Day of achievement and celebration for refugees
Over 100 people from the refugee and wider community gathered to celebrate the achievements of adult learners participating in a WWETB Language and Orientation Programme and a Wexford County Council Public Library Service Adult Reading Challenge.
Acting Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council Cllr. David Hynes and Mayor of Wexford and chairperson of WWETB Jim Moore presented the learners with certificates of participation, Wexford pins and a copy of a group 'Memory Book', a compilation of memories of their home countries, experiences of being a refugee in a new country as well as recipes, photographs and drawings.
To mark World Refugee Week, some of the learners gave very moving accounts of their experiences as refugees and their year in Wexford.
The children joined artist Angelika Kieley in making their own memories booklet while the younger ones had their faces painted by Shine Bright Theatre, all in celebration of Cruinniú na nÓg, a day for the young to participation in culture and creativity.
Everyone was treated to a taste of Middle Eastern cuisine with traditional Syrian sweets made by members of the refugee community. Westgate Catering provided a selection of salads and hot food.
It was left to the children to close the ceremony with a traditional song about peace.
Cllr. Hynes congratulated the participants for 'embracing this challenge, daunting as it may have been at times'.
'Your effort and dedication to the challenge and the improvement of your English language skills, while settling into a completely new culture and community is truly remarkable', he said. 'I commend you and congratulate you on your endeavours'.
Quoting Confuciius Cllr. Moore reminded the learners that when acquiring a new language, 'it doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop'. He wished the families the best on their 'life journey in Wexford'.
Copies of the 'Memory Book' are available to borrow from Wexford Libraries.
Under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme established by in September 2015, the Irish Government agreed to accept up to 4,000 people seeking protection under ther EU Relocation and Resettlement programmes. This was a response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa.
The Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB)have worked with the Refugee Resettlement Programme in County Wexford since June 2017, delivering a 20 hours per week English Language and Orientation Programme in four locations including public libraries in Enniscorthy and Wexford.