Migrant Networks' Leaders

28/05/2009

Trinity College Exhibition Highlights Contribution of Migrant Networks' Leaders

‘Leaders', a photographic exhibition which showcases the contribution made by migrant networks in Ireland, opened today, Thursday 28 May at the Buttery Cafe in Trinity College Dublin. The exhibition documents the work and achievements of eighteen individuals and organisations in rights advocacy, gender issues, culture, the media, and religion and highlights how these migrant networks facilitate social, cultural, and political integration in Ireland. The exhibition, which is open to the public until 25 June, is organised by the Trinity Immigration Initiative Migrant Networks Project and supported by An Post.

(Details of the individuals and organisations profiled are included below).

Dr. Ronit Lentin, principal investigator of the Migrant Networks Project, School of Social Science and Philosophy, TCD said: “While not claiming to represent all of the many migrant networks, and the many migrant leaders working in Ireland, this exhibition is our way of showcasing and saying thank you to some of the migrant leaders we have worked with over the past 18 months for the contribution they and their networks are making to Ireland’s cultural, social and political lives. These leaders are showing Ireland how, often in difficult situations, with little funding and support, migrants are advocating for their communities in the areas of religion, culture, gender and media, and thus not only enriching the lives of their communities, but also transforming Irish society”.

Barney Whelan, Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs, at An Post said it was pleased to support the exhibition not least because it had witnessed the steady integration of both newly arrived and long-settled immigrants into its 10,000 strong workforce and as an organisation was the better for it. “An Post is used to serving Ireland’s diverse population because we are uniquely connected to everyone working and living in the country. Whether sending or receiving letters and parcels; saving, collecting or sending money home; paying bills or getting insurance; everyone in the country engages directly with An Post and we try to serve our customers with equality and dignity”.

The Trinity Immigration Initiative (TII) brings together key strands of Trinity College’s strategies in research, teaching, and contribution to society, assisting the university to play an influential role in developing a more inclusive, multicultural society for the future. TII is the country's largest research programme in immigration working to inform and assist local, national, and international bodies to develop constructive policies in relation to immigration. Specifically, the TII Migrant Networks Project maps migrants’ networking and explores how these networks facilitate social, cultural, and political integration in Ireland. The project aims to enable government departments, public bodies, NGOs, the media, the general public, and migrants themselves, to understand migrants as active agents in their own integration and as contributing to Ireland’s new cultural richness. TII is supported by AIB Bank.
The migrant leaders and organisations featured in the ‘Leaders’ Exhibition were researched by Elena Moreo, Trinity Immigration Initiative, and the portrait photographs were taken by Carl Czanik.

Media contact: Martina Byrne, Trinity College Dublin,. Tel: 086 8207486   Email: byrnem19@tcd.ie
 

Information on the Migrant Leaders Profiled

 
Reverend Obinna Ulogwara, a Missionary Chaplain with the Church of Ireland (Anglican Communion) is from Nigeria. He is seconded to the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough to assist in ministry of pastoral care to the international community under the diocesan 'Discovery' Ministry which helps create opportunities for citizens and migrants to build relationships with one another. It also encourages migrants’ cultural, social, and spiritual talents and trans-cultural worship and fellowship. The chaplaincy links with government bodies, NGOs, and other organisations with similar concerns for positive engagement, on issues of immigration and integration and meaningful inclusiveness.
 
Remba Osengo works with Christ Co Workers in Mission, the first Pentecostal church established in Ireland. Christ Co Workers in Mission provides refugees and asylum seekers with an opportunity to worship and praise God according to their cultural backgrounds. Christ Co Workers in Mission promotes integration by helping Irish people to discover, via evangelistic means, how Christians from other cultural backgrounds share Christian core values and can become part of the Irish Christian community.

Anna Pas works with Polski Express, a lifestyle magazine for members of Polish community. Anna believes that integration happens on a day-to-day basis, by attending the same exhibitions, watching the same movies and listening to the same music. “At the end of the day, Polish people are not migrants, but rather adventurous people who have chosen Ireland as their second home.”

Vising Kennedy works with The Filipino Forum, the only Filipino newspaper in Ireland. The news magazine was launched in response to the needs of 11,000 Filipinos in Ireland. Between 1999 and 2005, 3,000 Filipino nurses took up assignments in Irish hospitals, and several thousands others were recruited to work in the caring and service sectors. The magazine’s mission involves advocacy and empowering its readers with information and knowledge on Irish legislation and human rights. They uphold Filipino values, culture and traditions while also being open to other cultures.
 
Sansão Maia teaches Mundo Capoeira an Afro-Brazilian mixture of martial arts, dance, game-play and music. Launched in 2001, the Mundo Capoeria School has students from over 35 countries from six continents. Capoeira classes provide a platform for social networking to people from all walks of life. Mundo Capoeira Ireland has participated in many community development programmes in schools and youth centres in Dublin’s inner city and other deprived areas, involving youths from local, migrant and Traveller communities. They also participate in SARI’s (Sports against Racism in Ireland) annual sports days.
 
Kunle (Olakunle) Animashaun works with Camino De Orula Productions - African Theatre Company as an actor, director and theatre analyst and artistic director. Camino De Orula Productions was established to promote African culture in Ireland and foster integration between Africans living in Ireland and the Irish community and serves as a bridge to different cultural affiliations in Ireland, while producing high standard theatrical pieces. Recent productions include Wedlock of the Gods by Zulu Sofola, and Sizwe Bansi is Dead by Athol Fugard, both at the Project Arts Centre. Wedlock of the Gods showcased African culture in all its bucolic ambience, informality, simple aesthetics, and originality. Sizwe Bansi is Dead explored wider social concerns by focusing on social exclusion and integration and provided commentary on social disparities, reflecting issues affecting Travellers, poor Irish families and other minority groups. The next production is entitled The King must Dance Naked.

Djamila Bouacid, from Algeria, helped set up NOUR, a multicultural group, in 2002. NOUR has members from various countries including Libya, Morocco, Algeria and India. NOUR aims to facilitate the full participation of Muslim women in Irish society and in the social, economic, and cultural life of Ireland’s Muslim communities. NOUR encourages all Muslim women to retain and express their social identity and cultural heritage, promotes cooperation between bodies concerned with ethnic affairs and encourages better understanding of Muslim women within wider Irish society. Meaning ‘Light’ in Arabic, NOUR aims to bring light to Muslim women, enabling them to know their rights and providing them with information in order to fulfil their aspirations in Ireland.

Mutale Kampuni works with Insaka Ireland, preparing young people for participation in Irish society. It facilitates survival strategies by keeping young people, between the ages of 16 and 26, in touch with their roots to encourage a sense of identity and achievement. Motivation is also provided via links with role models from members of the diaspora worldwide. Helpers, elders, and co-facilitators in the Irish community include Suas, Africa Centre, the National Youth Council of Ireland, Sport against Racism Ireland (SARI), and Sport in Action (Zambia). Insaka-Ireland is a member of the Anna Lindh Foundation and has received funding from the Community Foundation for Ireland. Insaka is a word in the Bemba language spoken in Zambia, meaning 'to hold council’ or a meeting place, evoking a long-standing tradition where community members come together to discuss issues, share knowledge, make plans, and then act on them. It can also refer to the skills and instructions given through mentoring by elders as a preparation for adulthood.

Samar Bennis, from Morocco, works with the New Communities Partnership (NCP) – a national network of over 70 ethnic minority-led organisations based in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Samar is particularly interested in women’s issues and would like to work as a women’s development worker with immigrant women in general and Muslim women in particular. Many migrant women who were doctors, cooks, engineers, or teachers in their home countries cannot work or use their full potential in Ireland.  Samar highlights the difficulties and barriers faced by these women and about what can be done to create opportunities for socialising, networking, going out, having fun, sharing and learning new skills, working, and studying so as to build an inclusive Irish society.
 
Nobuhle Ncube, a native of Zimbabwe, is an activist and advocate of human rights, justice and gender equality working with disadvantaged and marginalised groups, especially African women and children. She was granted a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award to work with primary school children on development and intercultural education through Lifeline Africa Foundation, with whom she is a volunteer coordinator and board member. In 2001, Nobuhle co-founded AkiDwA the African and Migrant Women’s Network Ireland, where she works as the Women Development Coordinator. AkiDwA’s mission is to promote equality and justice for migrant women living in Ireland. AkiDwA employs three key strategies to achieve its objectives: networking, policy work and capacity building/organisational development. Nobuhle is vice chairperson of the Irish Refugee Council and an advisory board member of Diaspora Women’s Initiative.
 
Anca Lupu has been involved with the Romanian Community in Ireland for the last five years, representing the community in public events, and supporting the Romanians living in Ireland to get the information and support they need in order to integrate into Irish society. She is working as a Healthy School Coordinator in Dublin 24, linking parents and children to appropriate health services. She also worked with Cairde as a Women’s Health Development Worker, working with minority ethnic women and their children, supporting them to identify, address and access health services and support.
 
Arunas Teiserskis is involved in the activities of the Lithuanian Association in Ireland, a non-profit organisation which aims to promote Lithuanian culture and language in Ireland, and help Lithuanians with their everyday life and work problems, including integrating into Irish society, and providing information about various aspects of life in Ireland. A major part of the Association’s work involves organising and maintaining the weekend school for Lithuanian children living in Ireland, where they can learn Lithuanian and get involved in various ethno-cultural activities such as singing, dancing, the arts and drama. On Saturday Arunas works voluntarily in the school. He works in Trinity College Dublin as a research scientist in the field of material sciences.
 
Reginald Okoflex, Founder and National Chairperson of Nigeria Association Network Ireland (NANI); co-publisher of The Nigerian Scene newspaper; and the Dublin Coordinator of the New Communities Partnership (NCP). NANI is a not-for-profit, volunteer based, project that represents its membership and the Nigeria Community in Ireland with chapters in Cork, Limerick, Dublin, Galway and Waterford. NANI was established in 2005 to promote solidarity among Nigerians and minimise aggressive stereotyping and racism towards Nigerians in Ireland. NANI addresses social exclusion and the meaningful integration of Nigerians and related poverty concerns. The New Communities Partnership (NCP) is the only ethnic-led national network in Ireland. The NCP believes that integration is about building a society that respects diversity and develops the capacity to accept people from different cultures.
 
Cherif Labreche, an Algerian born journalist, works with ethnic minorities and disadvantaged Irish individuals and communities. He has also worked as a reporter and presenter with RTE radio, covering conflict, immigration matters, and poverty and world cultures. To address the communication gap between Irish society and the new communities, Cherif manages the Hanine Media Development Agency, whose focus is providing Ethnic Minority Led Organisations (EMLOs) with media and communication skills. Hanine is affiliated with the New Communities Partnership assisting groups to devise a communications strategy using different communication tools.
 
Juliet Amamure is National Coordinator, Diaspora Women’s Initiative (DWI). DWI is a national, non profit, voluntary, non political organisation aiming to empower migrants to tackle HIV and related problems. DWI was launched in 2008 by a group of seven women from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. DWI was formed to provide a platform for migrant women, particularly those living with and affected by HIV, to speak for themselves and provide peer support. The group’s vision is to create a forum for social change, where HIV and related problems are openly discussed. Their hope is to improve access to information, care, and support for people affected and help reduce new infections.
 
Salome Mbugua of AkiDwA is a native of Kenya and an advocate of human rights, justice and gender equality with experience of working in Kenya, Uganda and Ireland. Established in 2001 AkiDwA is recognised as an authoritative, representative body for migrant women irrespective of their national/ethnic backgrounds, traditions, and religious beliefs, socio-economic or legal status. AkiDwA develops migrant women’s capacity for participation and representation in their communities and in decision-making structures, through training, consultation, focus groups, information provision and research. Salome has a diploma in social work and a Masters Degree in Equality Studies (UCD). She serves on the boards of the Equality Authority, Crisis Pregnancy Agency, WHEEL and EAPN Ireland.
 
Jun Yu Wang, founder and director of the Overseas Chinese Organisation. The Overseas Chinese Organisation, established in 2007, is a Chinese-led information and advocacy organisation for vulnerable Chinese migrants. It promotes equal rights for Chinese migrants in Ireland and empowers them in the decision making process to help them integrate into Irish Society

Abdul (Abderrazak) Zeroug,The Arab Community Forum in Ireland. Originally from Algeria Abdul came to Ireland with his family to experience life in the west.  He continued his education as a social and community development worker, leading him to work as a community development worker with The Arab Community Forum of Ireland (ACFI), a national network of Arab organisations. The ACFI mission is to be an effective network, representing and empowering minority Arab-led groups at all levels in order to influence positive change in policies that impact on their lives.

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