Indian Colour Extravaganza

Fashionistas in Strabane are already looking forward to next years Diwali festival.

SECA held a three day Diwali Festival with children from the local schools uniting with SECA’s Indian Community to celebrate The Festival of Lights.

The Alley Theatre and Fountain Street Community Association were the venues for two of the Days, four local schools took part and were given an insight into Diwali, the schools were St. Anne’s PS, Sion Mills PS, Cloughour PS and the Gaelscoil

Organised as part of the local Diwali celebrations this year SECA arranged an Indian Themed fashion show, around forty models took part not all the models were Indian, some were Polish, from local community grouos and local school children.

The large crowd present, which included members of Strabane’s growing multicultural community, members of local community groups and the Council Chairman enjoyed an evening of ecletic live entertainment and Indian cuisine, courtesy of Masala restaurant.

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Chandini Guram and Natasha Sharma performing Traditional Indian and Bollywood dancing.

Compere for the evening, Vijay Elangovan, explained the festival and its global significance. Dr Narenda Babu Koyyalamudi, Chairman of SECA, told those gathered, “I’d like to welcome everyone to our small party here. Tonight we celebrate the multicultural society that we have become. I’d like to thank all who were involved in organising tonight’s event and Strabane Council, who have always been supportive of all projects like this,” he said.

Council Chairman, Jarlath McNulty, added, “This evening aims to promote racial harmony and good relations between local residents and those from other countries. By bringing everyone together we are highlighting the benefits of cultural diversity.

The Indian community have long been resident here and we are delighted to be invited to share this festival with them. Diwali is the most important event in their year and occassions like this greatly help us understand each other’s cultures.”

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Dr Narenda Babu Koyyalamudi of SECA and SDC Chairman Jarlath McNulty lighting candles together at the festival.

Both he and Dr Koyyalamudi lit the traditional Diwali lamp. The evening’s entertainment included special performances from the Pop Tap Dance Academy, Bollywood dancer Natasha Sharma and Chandini Guram, who performed a traditional Indian dance. The Artsekta Fusion Band rounded off the night with their unique blend of world music.

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Michael Lafferty, Public Relations Officer for SECA, heralded the evening a great success: “It has been one of the most successful events of our calendar year, well supported by the community groups and our members. I would like to thank the Council, our members, all the performers, the staff of St Patrick’s Hall and the Department of Social Development for their support.

Concerned About Suicide

On the 9th April Strabane Ethnic Community Association organised an evening to raise awareness about the issues surrounding suicide at Alley Theatre. Chairman of SECA Dr. Nari Babu welcomed every one. It was well attended with a mixture of ethnic and local people and few families who lost their loved ones, which was very informative and heart moving. The three speakers were excellent.
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  SECA representatives with guests.
Barry Mc Gale of Western Health & Social Trust said when someone dies by suicide many people are affected such as families’ friends and work colleagues.
It is important to communicate and address with the concerned person or people and never take things lightly. It’s a mental block, we should try and move the block to a different area to help but all too often no one knows where to turn to for information and support. (Barry has distributed information leaflet contact number.)
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Reverend Noel presenting Barry Mc Gale with a memento.
Speaker Ann McGarrigle from Suicide Support Group who lost her son to suicide said coming here to talk and sharing her experience as a mother to bring hope and belonging to the people who lost their love ones and not to shy away from seeking help.

Vin McCullagh, playwright of ‘Why am I?’, spoke about his true story of attempts to deal with manic depression, mental illness and his personal battle in dealing with the threat of suicide. Vin offers a unique insight into the battle against mental illness which is now increasingly being diagnosed and openly discussed in society today.
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SECA Chairman Dr Nari Babu presenting Ann McGarrigle with a memento.
Bobby Rao, SECA development officer, thanked the three speakers and said they were excellent in giving courage and strength to people who think it’s a stigma when they lose their loved ones to suicide.
If you need any help or support, call:

Ann McGarrigle – 02871278709 OR 07738057129

Barry McGale – 02871865127

Knockavoe pupils get best out of Strabane

Strabane employers are supporting Knockavoe pupils as they study employability as part of the  new revised curriculum.  Dominic McCallion completed his yearfile0017.jpg‘s work experience at MacFadden’s Newsagent this year, the proprietor is Seamus MacFadden.

Julian Gawley and Marc McLaughlin completed their year’s work experience at Better Deals, with proprietors Una and Gary McLaughlin. Julian Gawley completed another work placement at the Your Store.

School principal Dorothy Kincaid would like to thank all employers for their support and understanding. Bobby Rao, the Development Worker for Strabane’s Ethnic Community Association, came to the school to talk to the students about the Indian way of life. Mr Rao presented the school with an ethnic calendar. In turn, student Steven McDevitt presented Mr Rao with a painted canvas on behalf of the pupils of Knockavoe School.

Child Protection Training

A day course on Child Protection was organised by SECA and delivered by Geoff Hunter on the 25th June, held at SECA offices. Pictured here are the participating SECA members along with members from the local community.

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Visit to Stormont

Members of SECA and Fountain Street enjoyed a guided tour of Stormont recently. During their tour, the group met with, amongst others, Ian Paisley Jr. and Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister Gregory Campbell. The group where accompanied on their trip by Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty, local councillor Michael Boyle and Bobby Rao.

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The group meets Ian Paisley Junior.

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Awards for All funds SECA web design workshops.

ON FRIDAY 18th January, a presentation evening took place at the offices of Strabane Ethnic Community Association (SECA) in Bridge Street. The evening was organised to award young members of SECA and of Fountain St Community Centre with certificates for their attendance at a series of web design workshops.

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The workshops were organised by SECA and were funded by the lottery grants scheme “Awards for All”. Purposemakers, a local web design company facilitated the workshops which took place at Fountain St Community Centre over the course of four weeks towards the end of last year.

The idea behind this initiative was to encourage children to become more actively involved with their local community group. By teaming up with a local web designer, SECA believed that they could engage their younger members and show them how they can make a contribution to the group.

Through the course of the workshops the children were actively involved in the design of a website for SECA. They were given the opportunity to voice their ideas and to discuss with Purposemakers what they felt would make a successful website. They were taken through the various stages involved in designing a website from designing a concept to creating a content managed site. Everyone that attended therefore had the opportunity to learn about the web design process and were trained in how to update the website themselves. Additional topics covered included Staying Safe On-line with particular emphasis on the safe use of Bebo, MySpace and other social networking sites.

Bobby Rao, Development Officer for SECA has said he is delighted with the success of the workshops and with the website that the young group has been involved in developing. He now hopes that his younger members will take ownership of the website and take responsibility for updating details of all their projects and upcoming events.

On behalf of his Board, Bobby would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that participated in the initiative including Fountain Street Community Centre and Purposemakers Web Design.

Further information on the services provided by SECA and on other projects they have been involved in can be obtained by visiting their website: www.seca.org.uk. Alternatively please email info@seca.org.uk or telephone Bobby on 02871886419.

Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461), one of the patron saints of Ireland. It takes place on 17 March, the date on which Patrick is held to have died.

The day is the national holiday of the Irish people. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland, and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Montserrat, and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the rest of Canada, Great Britain, Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.

It became a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding[2] in the early part of the 17th century, and is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The date of the feast is occasionally moved by church authorities due to March 17 falling in Holy Week; this last happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick’s Day was observed on 3 April in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and will happen again in 2008, when it shall be held on 15 March to avoid the second day in Holy Week.[3]

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide by Irish people and increasingly by many of non-Irish descent (usually in Australia, North America, and Ireland), hence the phrase, “Everyone wants to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Celebrations are generally themed around all things green and Irish; both Christians and non-Christians celebrate the secular version of the holiday by wearing green or orange, eating Irish food and/or green foods, imbibing Irish drink, and attending parades.

It was also on St. Patrick’s Day that Ireland’s national cricket team pulled off one of the biggest cricketing shocks by defeating top seeded Pakistan and eliminating them from the tournament in only their 2nd World Cup match. With that victory Ireland made it through to the next round of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin, Ireland is part of a five-day festival; over 500,000 people attended the 2006 parade. The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in Chicago and it is watched by over 2 million spectators. The St. Patrick’s Day parade was first held in Boston in 1737, organized by the Charitable Irish Society. New York’s celebration began on 17 March 1762 when Irish soldiers in the British army marched through the city. Ireland’s cities all hold their own parades and festivals. These cities include Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford. Parades also take place in other Irish towns and villages.

Source: Wikipedia

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, or the Lunar New Year, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an important holiday in East Asia. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called the Lantern festival.

Chinese New Year’s Eve is known as Chúxī . Chu literally means “change” and xi means “Eve”.

Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had a strong influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. In Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, Chinese New Year is also celebrated, largely by overseas Chinese, but it is not part of the traditional culture of these countries.

Source: Wikipedia

Republic Day (India)

The Republic Day of India is a national holiday of India to mark the transition of India from a British Dominion to a republic on January 26, 1950 and the adoption of the Constitution of India. It is one of the three national holidays in India. This is not to be confused with the Independence Day on August 15th.

Although India obtained its independence on August 15, 1947, the Constitution of India came into effect only on January 26, 1950. During the transition period from 1947 to 1950, King George VI was the head of state. C. Rajagopalachari served as the Governor-General of India during this period. Following January 26, 1950, Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of India.

To mark the importance of this occasion, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill near the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s Palace), along the Rajpath, past India Gate and on to the historic Red Fort. The different regiments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force march past in all their finery and official decorations. The President of India who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, takes the salute. The parade also includes vibrant displays and floats and traditionally ends with a flypast by Indian Air Force jets.

Source: Wikipedia

SECA Reads to Children in Polish

SECA and Good Relations Department representatives pictured with students from Newtownstewart primary schools.

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On June 13th SECA members travelled to Newtownstewart library to read to children from local primary schools in Polish, pictured below is Agnieszka Sakowskie

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