East Belfast GAA has praised the amazing relationships that can be made through sport and food after welcoming new members from the migrant and refugee community.
On Sunday, the gaelic sports club will be hosting a special event called ‘East Belfast Together’ at Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock, where it hopes to celebrate and promote the different communities that have come together to make it what it is today.
Organiser Ciara Boarke said the event is a culmination of the past few months where East Belfast GAA has worked with organisations such as Home Plus and the Red Cross to connect with Sudanese, Nigerian and Syrian families and welcome them into the club.
Speaking to Belfast Live, she said: “In August I worked with Home Plus and the Red Cross to set up scholarships for children from 10 Sudanese and Nigerian families to take part in our summer camp. After that they enjoyed it so much that they stayed with us at the club.
“It wasn’t long until we were all tucking into wonderful Sudanese food on a Saturday morning at our snack table.
“We then worked with the Red Cross again to bring some Syrian children over on a Saturday, with a translator to help them with any language barrier, which also proved to be such a great success. We organised a bus for them and they would then bring their siblings along the following weeks.
“Even though there was a language barrier, when the kids are out playing sports together it doesn’t really exist and they are able to make friends and have fun just kicking a ball about with each other. They could teach most adults a thing or two.
“As the weeks have gone on these families have really become a part of the club and it has been wonderful to see how many different backgrounds have come together to make East Belfast GAA, which is really what our club is all about.”
At the event on Sunday, which has been funded by the Red Cross Reunited Refugee Families Welcome Fund, the club will have a number of different activities celebrating the different backgrounds of its members such as Arabic Calligraphy, Polish arts and crafts, traditional Irish music and Highland Bagpipers.
One of the main highlights of the day will be the food, with mums from East Belfast GAA working with Yallaa Kitchen to serve up some traditional Arabic food.
Ciara continued: “We have built up a relationship with a fantastic social enterprise called Yallaa.
“Yallaa is a non-profit enterprise aimed at promoting Arab culture and heritage in Northern Ireland, and breaking down cultural barriers to build a better understanding of the Arab culture through Art, music and food.
“Their project Yallaa Kitchen will mean some of our Mothers will be able to use Yallaa’s professional kitchen to cook up some traditional Sudanese and Syrian food for everyone on Sunday!”
“Yallaa also supports the women by helping them to achieve Eng language and food hygiene certificates, which is empowering these women, and will help them greatly as they settle into their new home here in Belfast. “
East Belfast Together will take place from 2pm to 4pm at Our Lady and St Patrick’s College Knock on Sunday, December 5.