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"Wszędzie, I na kazdym szczeblu Emigranci wzbogacali i wzmacniali sfere Amerykańskiego życia"-napisał John F Kennedy w swojej książce z 1958 roku"Naród Emigrantów".

Wszyscy czterej dziadkowie byłego prezydenta USA byli dziećmi irlandzkich Emigrantów, którzy uciekli z Ojczyzny w 1840 roku, aby uniknac niszczycielskiego głodu ziemniaczanego i znalezc dla siebie nowe, prosperujące życie.

Kennedy był ogromnie świadomy siły napędowej, że widział prawie 2 000 000 zdesperowanych ludzi ryzykowalo wszystko podrozujac notorycznie tkzw "trumnami statków" conajmniej dwa miesiące przez Ocean Atlantycki.Po to aby doznac lepszego zycia.

"Jestem bardzo dumny ze Zróżnicowanego charakteru naszego miejsca zamieszkania." -powiedzial Radny Mark Murnin, przewodniczący, Rady Okregowej Newry, Mourne i Down. -"I am very proud of the diverse nature of our district." Cllr Mark Murnin, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

 

Mark rozumie doskonale również kluczową rolę Irlandi i wielu innych narodowości, które sprawiły, że Ameryka byla na owczesny czas byla ich domem. W tym czasie narodowosci te ukształtowaly w USA bardzo silne korzenie Ekonomicznie, Kulturowe i Społeczne.

W latach od 2004 do 2014, około 6 000 Emigrantów przybylo do Newry, Mourne i Down, aby zaczac nowe zycie na stale..

Podobnie jak przodkowie Kennedy'ego, przybyli oni po to, aby polepszyc jakośc ich życia.Zarowno dla nich jak i ich rodzin.

I rzeczywiscie wspaniale zaklimatyzowali sie w Irlandii I przyczynili się do wielkich pozytywnych zmian i duzego wkladu w przyszlosc miasta Newry.

"Przybycie osób z Polski i innych krajów Europejskich od 2004 miało bardzo pozytywny wpływ na nasza społecznośc", mówi polski Konsul Jerome Mullen.

"Ci Europejscy Obywatele pokazali nam wiele nowych umiejętności, których my nie posiadamy.Jak rowniez pierwszo-rzedna etyke w pracy, która jest bardzo profesjonalna i bardzo mile widziana przez naszych pracodawców tutaj w Newry.

“Emigranci bardzo wzbogacili nasze życie i uważam, że nasze własne tło kulturowe I naszej przeszlej Emigracji do wielu części świata pomogło nam samym zrozumiec I zaakceptowac ich obecnosc”.

"Ta akceptacja była dla nas bardzo ważna i zrobiliśmy to bardzo szybko,z czego jestesmy bardzo dumni".

Obywatele Polski, Litwy i Bułgarii tworzą największą liczbę 6 000 Emigrantów żyjących obecnie na obszarze Newry.

Jednak wiele innych narodowości nazywają nasze miasto “Swoim Domem”; Rumuni, Słowacy, Chinczycyi, Filipińczycy, Łotysze, indyjczycy, Portugalczycy, Pakistanczycy, Syryjczycy i ludzie z różnych krajów Afrykanskich.

W przeciwieństwie do nieuzasadnionych stereotypów, większość Emigrantów zamieszkujących w Newry jest w rzeczywistości zatrudniona I pracuje na stale.

W istocie wielu z nich odgrywa kluczową rolę w licznych przedsiębiorstwach miejskich.

Nie oznacza to jednak, że “podbieraja" lokalne miejsca pracy,jest to bez zasadne roszczenie malej grupy nie przyjaznych obserwatorow. Bezrobocie zmniejszyło się dramatycznie w ciągu ostatnich dwudziestu lat za ich przyczyna.Młodzi ludzie ktorzy przybyli ze wszystkich części Europy pracuja ciezko i nazywają Newry ich “Domem”.

W 1991, Newry miało jedną z najwyższych stóp bezrobocia tak samo i Wielkiej Brytanii bezrobocie siegalo ponad 26 procent.

Do 2008 roku na obszarze 4 lat stopa bezrobocia spadła do zaledwie dwóch procent za zasluga nowych obywateli..

Liczba nowych uczniów, którzy zapisali się do lokalnych szkol, nie posiadajac perfekcyjnuch umiejętności językowych poprawila znaczaco poziom Edukacji w Szkolach Irlandzkich.Od 2008 do 2014 roku uczniowie z różnych środowisk Etnicznych i Kulturowych wzbogacili i wzmocnili życie szkolne w Polnocnej Irlandi wzrostem uczniow o ponad 75 procent.

W tym tygodniu, Newry, Mourne i Down przewodniczący Rady, Mark Murnin, spotkał się z Syryjskimi rodzinami, które niedawno osiedlily się w naszej dzielnicy.

Powiedział, że Rada Miasta jest wiodącym przykładem w obejmowaniu nowych Wspólnot i promowaniu nowych kultur społecznych..

"Jako przewodniczący Rady Okragowej Newry, Mourne i Down, jestem bardzo dumny ze Zróżnicowanego charakteru naszego Okregu..

"Ten region zawsze był gościnny i wierzę, że tak zostanie na zawsze.A jest to za sprawa naszych nowo przybylych przyjaciol ktorzy czuja sie jak u siebie w domu i przyczyniają się w znacznym stopniu do jego dobrobytu Kulturowego, Społecznego i Gospodarczego.

"Naszym zadaniem jako reprezentantow Spolecznosci Newry i Rady Miasta jest zapewnienie absolutnej równości i integracji wsrod naszych mieszkancow.

"Centrum Wsparcia Mniejszości Etnicznych jest wyraźnym przekazem pracy partnerskiej, która odnosi się do społeczności mniejszościowych.

"Wspólnie jako Wspólnota budujemy wspólną przyszłość dla wszystkich.”

Young people from all parts of Europe and further afield can call Newry their home.
Młodziez ze wszystkich części Europy ktora nazywa Newry ich “Domem”.. - Young people from all parts of Europe and further afield call Newry their home.

Newry-zróżnicowane miasto

Jest to pierwszy z serii co tygodniowych artykolow pod tytułem "Diverse City"?Zroznicowane Miasto

Fakt ten pokazuje ze Newry jest ich domem I dzieki temu ze sa tu z nami przyczynili sie do rozwoju i wzbogacenia naszego, tętniącego życiem miasta..

My jako mieszkancy staramy się pokazać naszym nowym sąsiadom, jak to oni są bardzo cennym wzbogeceniem naszej społeczności w Newry.To oni którzy podobnie jak wielu naszych przodków, szukali możliwości lepszego życia, przyczynili sie znacznie do pozytywnego wpływu na nowe otoczenie.

Skontaktuj się z nami

Jeśli masz ciekawe historie klasyfikajacej sie do naszej sekcji Diverse miasto na Newry.ie napisz do nas na news@newry.ie


''Everywhere, immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life,'' wrote John F Kennedy in his 1958 book 'A Nation of Immigrants'.

All four of the former US president's grandparents were children of Irish immigrants who had fled their homeland in the 1840s to escape the devastating potato famine and make for themselves a new, prosperous life.

Kennedy was acutely aware of the driving force that saw almost two million desperate people risk everything by boarding notorious 'coffin ships' and making the treacherous two-month journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

He also understood the crucial role the Irish - and the many other nationalities that made America their home at that time - had in shaping the US economically, culturally and socially.

Between 2000 and 2014, around 6,000 international migrants moved to Newry, Mourne and Down to live permanently.

Like Kennedy's forefathers, they moved to pursue a better quality of life for them and their families - a basic and fundamental human right.

And like the Irish diaspora before them, they came to contribute, to be accepted, and to make a difference.

''The arrival of people from Poland and other European countries from 2004 onwards has had a very positive effect on our communities here,'' says Newry-based Polish Consul Jerome Mullen.

''These European citizens have brought many skills that we no longer have, and a work ethic that is very refreshing and greatly welcomed by our employers here in Newry.

''They have also brought with them their own unique culture and traditions and this has been a very enriching experience for us to see.

''I have had the honour over the past 10 years to represent Poland and its citizens all over Northern Ireland, who are by far the largest of the European communities living here and while there have been some challenges, especially around language, they have integrated very well with our local community.

''They have greatly enriched our lives and I believe our own cultural background of emigration to many parts of the world has helped us in embracing their presence amongst us.

“That was a very important thing for us to do and we did it.''

Nationals from Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria make up the greatest number of the 6,000 migrants currently living in the Newry area.

However, many other nationalities now call this city their home; Romanians, Slovaks, Chinese, Filipinos, Latvians, Indian, Portuguese, Pakistan, Syrians and people from various African countries.

And contrary to lazy, unfounded stereotypes, most immigrants that live in Newry are, in fact, employed.

Indeed, many play a crucial role in numerous city businesses.

This does not, however, mean they have ‘stolen 'local jobs’, another unfounded claim; unemployment levels have decreased dramatically over the last two decades.

In 1991, Newry had one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK at a staggering 26 per cent.

By 2008 – at the height of movement into the area by new nationals - it had dropped to just two per cent.

The number of Newcomer Pupils - children that have enrolled in a school but may not have the satisfactory language skills to participate fully in the school curriculum - rose by almost 75 per cent in Northern Ireland between 2008 and 2014.

Again, rather than a burden or setback to local schools, local principals say pupils from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds have enriched and enhanced school life.

This week, Newry, Mourne and Down Council chairman, Mark Murnin, met with Syrian families that have recently settled in our district.

He said this Council has been a leading example in embracing new communities and promoting inclusion.

“As chairman of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, I am very proud of the diverse nature of our district.

“This region has always been a welcoming one and I believe those that have this district their home have and continue to contribute greatly to its cultural, social and economic wellbeing.

“In our civic leader function, our Council has been an exemplar in ensuring that equality and inclusion is at the forefront in how we embrace communities.

“The Council’s Ethnic Minority Support Centre is a clear demonstration of partnership working which addresses affecting our minority communities.

“Together as a community, we are building a shared future for all.”.

Newry - A Diverse City

This is the first of a series of weekly essays and videos under the title 'Diverse City'.

Kirovsk is twinned with Newry and residents of the Russian city regularly engage with Newry schools and events.
Kirowsk jest partnerem mieszkańcow Rosyjskiej spolecznosci w Newry i regularnie angażuje się w wydarzenia szkolne w naszym Okregu. - Kirovsk is twinned with Newry and residents of the Russian city regularly engage with Newry schools and events.

These will showcase and personalise the people that have made Newry their home and have helped develop and enrich our diverse, vibrant city.

We will strive to show our new neighbours as what they are - valuable members of our Newry community who, like many of our own ancestors, sought an opportunity of a better life and to have a positive impact in their new surroundings.

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If you have a story for our Diverse City section on Newry.ie please email us on news@newry.ie

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“Ja lubie mowic po Polsku wlasciwie ja kocham to jestem caly ja”, powiedzial dziewiecioletni Oliver Arczynski.

“Ja urodzilem sie w Irlandi ale cala moja rodzina jest z Polski.Moj plan jest ze kiedys wroce do Polski  aby mieszkac tam na stale i dlatego jest bardzo wazne zebym mowil i pisal w moim ojczystym jezyku”.

Oliver jest uczniem Polskiej Szkoly Uzupelniajacej w Newry.

Ponad 100 polskich dzieci uczeszcza do Polskiej Szkoly Uzupelniajacej mieszczacej sie w budynku Wyzszej Szkoly dla chlopcow im.Sw jozefa w Newry.Zajecia odbywaja sie co Sobote od 10-14ej godziny..Dzieci uczeszczajace na zajecia sa w wieku od trzech do dwunastu lat.

Te same dzieciaki uczeszczaja do lokalnych podstawowek od poniedzialku do piatku.

Zdjecie:uczennica Ewa Dubas

W kazda Sobote uczesczajacy do Szkoly Uzupelniajacej ucza sie ich rodowitego jezyka jak rowniez szkolnych przedmiotow elementarnych takich jak Matematyka czy Chemia.

Klasy sa podzielone na szesc kategori wiekowych gdzie sa takie przedmioty jak Dziennikarstwo czy Informatyka.

Zdaniem Dyrektora szkoly Katarzyny Weber glownym mottem szkoly jest Propagowanie i Kultywowanie Polskiej kultury przez mlodych Polakow/ek urodzonych w irlandi.

chool Principal -  Katarzyna Weber. Photograph: Newraypics.com
School Principal - Katarzyna Weber. Photograph: Newraypics.com

Szkola zostala otwarta 10 lat temu po to aby dzieciaki ktore opuscily ojczysty kraj mogly swobodnie wciaz uczyc sie Polskosci.

Teraz wszystko wyglada inaczej

“Wiekszosc dzieci uczeszcajacych na zajecia juz urodzily sie w irlandi i ich jezyk polski nie jest na wysokim poziomie:-powiedziala Katarzyna.

Zdjecie:Dyrektor Szkoly Katarzyna Weber

Dzieciaki urodzone w Irlandi posluguja sie glownie jezykiem angielskim.Ze wzgledu na to ze ich lokalni rowiesnicy posluguja sie jezykiem angielskim w szkole czy tez na podworkach.

Dlatego tez przykladamy duza wage do tego aby dzieciaki nie zapomnialy naszej historii czy tez kultury polskiej i kladziemy nacisk na nauke naszego ojczystego jezyka.

Nie chcemy aby nasi podopieczni zapomnieli o naszych Polskich korzeniach.jest to dla nas rzecz bardzo wazna a wrecz priorytetowa.

“Wszystkie dzieci ktore przyjechaly z Polski raczej pamietaja historie czy kulture naszej Ojczyzny.Niestety te dzieciaki ktore urodzily sie w irlandi tego nie pamietaja i nie znaja.Dlatego tez wazne jest aby droga edukacji pokzac im skad pochodza i skad sie wywodza.Nie chcemy aby zapomnialy one w przyszlosci swoich Ojczystych Korzeni.”

Pierwsza Polska Szkola Uzupelniajaca powstala w Belfascie w 2007 roku ze wzgledu na duza liczbe naplywajacych polskich rodzin.

Dlatego tez jeden z polskich nauczycieli mieszkajacych w Newry Grzegorz Wawrzynski wpadl na pomysl otwarcia takiej samej placowki w Newry ze wzgledu na duze zainteresowanie polskich rodzin.

Grzegorz stworzyl strone internetowa “Newry.pl” gdzie Polska spolecznosc w Newry mogla swobodnie komunikowac sie czy tez dzielic sie uwagami dotyczacymi Polakow mieszkajacych lokalnie .Razem z kolega z Belfastu Grzegorz stworzyl sonde na jego stronie gdzie osoby mogly glosowac czy chcialyby aby taka Polska Szkola powstala.Dzieki pomocy Anety Dabek,ksiedza Stanislawa Hajkowskiego i pomocy Jeroma Mullena Honorowego Konsula Polskiego w Polnocnej Irlandi i pozytywnej sondy gdzie 60 osob zaglosowalo za otwarciem szkoly.W Listopadzie tego samego roku czyli szesc miesiecy pozniej  Polska Szkola Uzupelniajca zostala otwarta w budynku Podstawowej Szkoly Abbey na Courtney Hill(stary budynek).

Generalnie dzieciaki ktore sie zapisaly do szkoly byly to dzieci ktore przybyly z

Polski i juz mowily dobrze po polsku.

“W 2008 roku wiekszosc dzieci mowila plynnie po polsku dlatego tez nakladalismy duzy nacisk na inne przedmioty takie jak Matematyka czy Chemia. Jezyk polski czy Historia czy Kultura.”-powiedziala Katarzyna.

Razem w szkole probowalismy celebrowac wszystkie wieksze Swieta Polskie takie jak Gwiazdka,Mikolajki czy Dzien Niepodleglosci.Staralismy sie klasc duzy nascisk na to aby nasi podopieczni mowili w naszym ojczystym jezyku bo wiedzielismy ze po angielsku mowia od poniedzialku do piatku w ich lokalnych szkolach.

Zdjecie:uczen Oliver Arczynski

Katarzyna mieszka w w Newry juz ponad 11 lat.

Mama dwojki dzieci pracuje w Szkole od trzech lat.Na poczatku byla na stanowisku pomocy nauczyciela gdzie w tym czasie konczyla studia.

Po skonczeniu wyzszych Studiow Katarzyna zostala wybrana na Dyrektora Polskiej Szkoly Uzupelniajacej.

“Na poczatku zaczynalismy z 60 podopiecznymi gdzie dzis liczba siega ponad 100 dzieci.”-powiedziala Katarzyna

“ Ja bym bardzo zyczyla sobie zeby bylo tych dzieciakow wiecej dlatego ze wiem ze jest bardzo duzo rodzin ktore nie poslaly swoich dzieci do Naszej Szkoly.”

“Moze dzieje sie tak dlatego ze niektorzy rodzice nie wiedza o Naszej Szkole albo tez nie maja czasu bo pracuja i tak naprawde nie zdaja sobie sprawy jak wazna jest nasza Polska kultura i jej propagowanie.”

“Wydaje mi sie ze rodzice ci moga kiedys zalowac ze ich dzieci nie mowia dobrze po Polsku i po powrocie do Polski na stale nie beda mogly sie swobodnie porozumiec ze swoja rodzina z Polski czy tez rowiesnikami.” Czasami dzieciakom nie chce sie isc do Szkoly Polskiej w Sobote ale tak naprawde to ich rodzice powinni naklaniac swoje dzieci azeby uczyly sie Polskosci,ich jezyka i naszej kultury.”

“Ja bardzo lubie moja prace nawet jesli naprawde wszystkie Soboty musze byc w szkole minimum po 4 godziny.Jest to bardzo pracochlonne ale robie to z pasja.”

Zdjecie::Hubert swierczynski i Mateusz Laskowski

Polska Szkola Uzupelniajca w Newry placi czynsz za udostepnienie budynku klas i mediow. Dyrekcja Szkoly Sw.Jozefa jest bardzo przychylna i pomocna dzieki temu nasi podopieczni bardzo lubia uczeszczac na Sobotnie zajecia aby podtrzymywac nasza polska kulture.

“Ja uwielbiam moja szkole i traktuje to jako zabawe.”-powiedziala Ewa Dubas osmioletnia uczennica Szkoly Uzupelniajacej.

“Ja lubie moich nauczycieli i moich przyjaciol ze Szkoly Uzupelniajacej.”

Dzewiecioetni Hubert Swierczynski dodal:”Gramy duzo w pilke i uprawiamy wiele sportow. Uwielbiam uczyc sie naszego Polskiego jezyka.”

Oliver ktory dodatkowo uczy sie jezyka Irlandzkiego w Szkole Sw.Jozefa w wojewodztwie Monaghan dodal rowniez:”My pracujemy ciezko w naszej Polskiej Szkole.Przygotowujemy wiele Polskich uroczystosci takich jak Swieta Bozego Narodzenia itd.Ja naprawde rekomenduje Nasza Szkole do wszystkich dzieci.”

Te wszystkie mile slowa i rekomendacje dzieciakow daja Katazrzynie sile i duzo pozytywnej energi aby dalej pracowac w (PSU) Polskiej Szkole Uzupelniajacej w Newry.

“Najbardziej pozytywnym akcentem mojej pracy z dzieciakami jest to ze moge im pomoc wykreowac lepsza przyszlosc.”- dodala Katarzya.


''I like speaking Polish. I love it. It's me,'' says nine-year-old Oliver Arczynski.

Student - Oliver Arczynski. Photograph: Newraypics.com
Student - Oliver Arczynski. Photograph: Newraypics.com

''I was born in Ireland, but all my family is Polish. I am planning on living in Poland when I grow up. So it's important I can speak and read Polish.''

Oliver is a pupil at the Polish Supplementary School in Newry.

Over 100 pupils attend the classes at St Joseph's Boys' High School each Saturday from 10am-4pm.

The children are aged from three to 12 and attend local primary schools from Monday to Friday.

Pupil Ewa Dubas Photograph: Newraypics.com
Pupil Ewa Dubas Photograph: Newraypics.com

At the Saturday morning lessons, they learn how to speak, read and write their native tongue, as well as studying curricular subjects such as math and chemistry.

The classes - divided into six age groups - also learn about journalism and IT.

School prinicpal Katarzyna Weber said the school's main objective is to preserve and promote Polish culture for the many young Poles who have been born in Ireland.

The school initially opened 10 years ago for Polish children that had recently left their homeland and wanted to continue learning their language.

Now, the emphasis has slightly changed.

''The children are no longer new to here - they have been born here - and the Polish language is not very spoken well amongst these children,'' said Katarzyna.

''They are born here and their first language is mainly English because of their education, their friends and that. ''English is the number one language, so here we mostly focus on Polish language and history and culture as well because we don't want them to forget about their roots, which is very important.

''The children that came to Ireland remembered their history, where they came from, but the ones that are born here, if they don't get that information, if they don't get that education, they will not know it and it's very important for the future to know who they are, where they came from. Their identity.' They need to know this.''

The first Polish school in Northern Ireland opened in Belfast in 2007 as increasing numbers of Polish familes made their home here.

One of its teachers, Newry-based Grzegorz Wawrzynski, realised there was a growing need for a similar facility in Newry for its growing Polish population.

Teacher  Jolanta Czarnocka with her students at the Polish Supplementary School in Newry. Photograph: Newraypics.com
Teacher Jolanta Czarnocka with her students at the Polish Supplementary School in Newry. Photograph: Newraypics.com

He had created a website and Facebook page - 'NewryPL' - to provide information or services and facilities in Newry for the Polish community and allow those to share information with each other.

Grzegorz and a teaching colleague in Belfast then explored the idea of opening a Polish school in Newry.

They helped by Aneta Dabek, the school's first chairperson approached Fr Stan Hajkowski in the Newry Parish and Polish Hononary Counsel, Jerome Mullen.

A questionairre was submitted on the NewryPL site to gauge potential interest in a school in May 2008.

The feedback was positive with almost 60 replies expressing a keen interest.

In November - just five months later - the school opened at the former Abbey Primary School on Courtney Hill with 60 pupils enrolled.

They were mainly children who had emigrated from Poland having started their education in their homeland.

''In 2008, they were teaching the children similar things that they were taught in Poland because this was new immigration and the children knew Polish quite well and they wanted to continue that education here,'' said Katarzyna.

''They had maths, chemistry, Polish language, and Polish history and culture, which we still do but with Polish children born in Ireland.

''We try to celebrate all the holidays that we celebrate in Poland. We have our Christmas play, we have our own Independence Day and we encourage parents to speak Polish at home because they know English anyway because they go to local schools and speak English, so we focus on Polish here.''

Katarzyna has been living in Newry for 11 years.

The mum-of-two joined the school three years ago as a teaching assistant while studying for her degree in Early Years development.

She enjoys her principal role and said she hopes to see the school develop and expand, and perhaps having their own premises some day.

''We started with 60 children in 2008, now have over 100,'' she said.

''I would love it to grow more because I know there are loads of Polish families here that could send their children to Polska Szkola.

''There are a lot of parents that are maybe not aware of how important retaining your own culture and language is.

''I think some parents regret if they don't teach their children their langauge and when the return to Poland, they can't speak the language to their aunties or undles or grandparents.

''Sometimes they don't want to come, it's Saturday, the children don't want to get up early, but I would love all the parents to be aware of retaining our language and culture as well as embracing the culture here.

''I do enjoy the role, but there is a lot of time involved. We are four hours on Saturday but there's also a lot of preparation.

''We also have to find the funds to make lessons fun and interesting for the children to come here.''

Students - Hubert Swierczynski and Mathew Laskowski. Photograph: Newraypics.com
Students - Hubert Swierczynski and Mathew Laskowski. Photograph: Newraypics.com

The school pays a monthly rent to St Joseph's, whose staff and management they say have always been very welcoming and supportive.

And the pupils clearly enjoy a few hours each week finding out about the language, history and culture of their homeland.

''I like all the work, it's very fun,'' said Ewa Dubas, an eight-year-old pupil at St Ronan's PS in Newry.

''I like to meet my teachers and all my friends. It's a happy place to come to.''

Hubert Swierczynski, nine, added: ''We can play loads of sports. I find the language interesting. I really enjoy it.''

Oliver, who is also learning Irish at St Joseph's National School in Co Monaghan, added: ''We do a lot of work. Sometimes we do special events like Christmas plays and things like that. I really recommend it to other children.''

These sort of responses are why Katarzyna has dedicated her life to working with children.

''The best part of my job is working with the children, knowing that I can help make their lives better,'' she added.

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Mulți dintre membrii comunității de români din Newry, o comunitate mică dar în creștere, se adună în fiecare weekend la Altnaveigh House pentru slujba de la biserică. Aceștia sunt o congregație a Bisericii Române Penticostale și, precum în cazul altor religii, muzica are un rol foarte important în cadrul slujbelor.

Biserica, singura din Newry în momentul de față care oferă slujbe dedicate românilor, funcționează aici de patru luni, iar numărul enoriașilor este în creștere. Biserica este condusă de preotul Gaspar Covaciu. Acesta este în slujba Domnului de 20 de ani, continuându-și profesia atunci când a ajuns în Newry, cu trei ani în urmă.

The Service in progress at Altnaveigh House. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
The Romanian Pentecostal Service in progress at Altnaveigh House. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

“Oamenii care vin aici, familiile, nu au parte de beneficii, de nimic, și încercăm să îi ajutăm”, a declarat preotul Gaspar. “Dar nu este suficient spațiu. Avem nevoie de o locație mai mare pentru că numărul celor care vin este în creștere.”

Stugureu Lovaciu, un interpret al preotului, a declarat că biserica este o locație vitală pentru romanii din zona orașului Newry, numărul acestora deși mic, fiind în continuă creștere.

“Majoritatea românilor, aproximativ 90%, sunt creștini”, precizează acesta. “Biserica îi ajută pe toți și de aceea numărul nostru este în creștere aici.”

Stugureu a declarat că mulți români și-au părăsit țara natală din cauza lipsei banilor și a medicamentelor. Precum majoritatea imigranților, au venit aici în căutarea unei vieți mai bune.

Deși acesta recunoaște că bariera lingvistică reprezintă o mare dificultate, el spune că simte a sa comunitate integrată și primită cu brațele deschise de oamenii din Newry. “Oamenii sunt prietenoși”, spune acesta. “Întâmpin foarte puțin rasism. Este bine aici.”

Florin Covaciu, un adolescent membru al bisericii, declară că biserica și credința lui sunt de foarte mare importanță pentru el. “Biserica este importantă pentru că toată lumea Îl iubește pe Dumnezeu și toți avem nevoie de el”, a precizat el. “Ne întâlnim cu toții, cu familiile noastre, și cântăm împreună, ceea ce este important. Cântatul este minunat.”

Teofil Covaciu. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Teofil Covaciu. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

El a adăugat: “Suntem creștini. Nu fumăm, nu bem alcool, nu consumăm droguri. Suntem oameni buni.”

Florin, un elev de 14 ani de la liceul din Newry spune că se simte ca acasă în noile sale împrejurimi. “Newry este un loc bun” a adăugat Florin. “Unii oameni, nu toți, spun lucruri despre mine pentru că sunt din România. Nu este plăcut, dar nu mă întristează. Se mai întâmplă. Noi mergem înainte. Nu toată lumea e așa.”

Florin încă mai are membri ai familiei rămași acasă. Îi este dor de ei, dar este fericit aici și își dorește să studieze pentru a deveni mecanic, o oportunitate care ar putea să nu fie disponibilă pentru el acasă.

Dar totuși spune că românii din comunitatea aflată aici încă au nevoie de ajutor. “Avem nevoie de mai mult spațiu”, a adăugat acesta.

Teofil Covaciu, fiul preotului Gaspar, este de asemenea elev al liceului din Newry. Băiatul de 14 ani spune că îi place viața de școlar. “Materia mea preferată este mecanica”, spune Teo. “Vreau să devin mecanic atunci când voi crește.”

El spune că viața unui adolescent care locuiește departe de casă poate fi dificilă, dar adaugă : “Îmi place Newry. Este casa mea acum.”

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The sound of music can be heard on the Belfast Road every Saturday night.

Many of Newry's small but growing Romanian community gather each weekend at Altnaveigh House for their weekly church service.

They are a congregation of the Romanian Pentecostal church and, like many religions, music plays a huge part in their services.

The Church - the only Romanian service currently in Newry - has been operating here for four months - and numbers are swelling.

It is led by Pastor Gaspar Covaciu.

He has been a minister for 20 years, continuing his ministry when he arrived in Newry three years ago.

''The people that come here, the families, have no benefits, no nothing, and we try to help them,'' said Pastor Gaspar.

''But there is no room here. We need bigger premises, more room, because our numbers are growing.''

Stugureu Lovaciu, an interpreter for the pastor, said the church is a vital facility for the small but growing number of Romanian families living in the Newry area.

''Most of the people of Romania, maybe 90 per cent, is Christian,'' he said.

''The church helps everyone and that's why our numbers are growing here.''

Stugureu said many people from Romania left their homeland due to a lack of money and medicine.

Like most immigrants, they came in search of a better quality of life.

While he acknowledges the language barrier presents huge difficulties, he said he feels his community have been largely welcomed by the people of Newry.

''People are friendly,'' he says.

''I find very little racism. It is good here.''

Teenager and church member, Florin Covaciu, said his faith and his church is of upmost importance to him.

''Church is important because everybody loves God and everybody needs God,'' he said.

''We meet each other, our families, and we sing together, which is important. Singing is everything.''

He added: ''We are Christian. We don't smoke, we don't drink, we don't take drugs. We are good men.''

A 14-year-old student at Newry High School, Florin said he feels at home in his new surroundings.

''Newry is so good,'' added Florin.

''Some people, not everyone, say things about me being from Romania. It isn't nice, but it doesn't make me sad. It happens. We get on with it. Not everybody is like that.''

Florin still has family at home.

He misses them, but is happy here as he wants to learn to become a mechanic, an opportunity that may not be available to him at home.

But he says the Romanian community settled here still need more help.

Pastor Gaspar Covaciu. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Pastor Gaspar Covaciu. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

''We need more space,'' he added.

Teofil Covaciu, the son of Pastor Gaspar, also attends nearby Newry High School.

The 14-year-old said he is enjoying school life.

''My favourite subject is mechanics,'' says Teo.

''I want to be a mechanic when I grow up.''

He said life can be difficult for a teenager living away from home, but he added: ''I like Newry. This is my home now.''

 

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Boarding a plane from Portugal to Ireland in 2008, Alice Martins Ruas was too young to comprehend the enormity of what was happening.

The seven-year-old's dad had been awarded a senior job on the construction of the M1 at Newry bypass and was moving his family from the southern Portuguese city of Sebutal to a new life in Northern Ireland.

Alice Martins Ruas. Photographs: NewRayPics.com
Our Lady's is opening doors towards a prospective future career in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justive for Alice Martins Ruas. Photographs: NewRayPics.com

For the little girl, it was a huge adventure.

So she was surprised at the tears and hugs from family members at the departure gate.

''When I was seven, I didn't really understand the concept of countries, so when my dad came home from work one day and said we were moving to Northern Ireland, I was like 'oh, that's cool','' said Alice.

''It didn't register in my head that it was a different country. We were getting on the plane and my mum was crying and my granny was crying, and I didn't understand why they were crying - we were just moving house. I wasn't scared. I was kind of excited about moving.''

Upon arriving in Ireland, Alice quickly noticed a dramatic change.

Coats became a necessity.

And sunglasses were no longer required.

Alice plans to do a degree in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice.
Alice plans to do a degree in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice.

''I remember obviously that it was colder; we had to wear winter coats because we were freezing all the time,'' said Alice.

''I remember first seeing the radiators on the wall in our house and thinking that this was crazy because in Portugal you don't need radiators. You just buy a wee one that you plug in when you're cold. I remember looking at the radiators in the house and thinking 'what are these things?'

''Also, in our first house a milkman would call and drop milk at the door and I remember the first time I seen it I was like wow. I was fascinated by it.''

It was a far cry from the sun-kissed coast of Portugal.

But the cold climate was made easier by the warm welcome.

''We were made welcome here,'' says Alice.

''We were here two or three days when my mum took us looking for a school. She got speaking to man who told us to try St Joseph's PS in Newry. He said there were  kids from different backgrounds at the school. I've always felt welcomed here. Everyone is really helpful. I think my English is quite good and people maybe don't realise I'm from Portugal until I tell them and they're like 'oh, that's cool'.''

Alice is now a Year 14 pupil at Our Lady's Grammar School in Newry.

She is studying A-Level Maths, Spanish and Psychology and hopes to go to university later this year to do a degree in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Justice.

She still speaks Portuguese with her mum, dad and siblings.

And they still make traditional Portuguese cuisine on special occasions.

Retaining her heritage is of huge importance to Alice, though she senses the bond diminishes slightly as the years pass by.

''It was my first language,'' she said.

''I try to go over to Portugal every year, but that's just not possible because my brother and I have a job. I do notice when I go over that I'm different and they're different. The last time I went over I hadn't been over in two an a half years and suddenly I had short blonde hair and I had glasses

Alice at Our Lady's Grammar School.
Alice at Our Lady's Grammar School.

''Yes, I do find I'm drifting a little apart. It does make me sad to think me and my family in Portugal are drifting apart. They don't really know me, they remember me as this seven-year-old and I'm very different to when I was seven.

''So it is kind of sad, but at the same time the culture and nationality will always be there and I do try to hold on to that by speaking to my dad and mum in Portuguese and I have a few Portuguese books and sometimes I get a wee notion to read them. I listen to music in Portuguese sometimes to hold on to that.

'My dad sometimes makes crepes with the mince. We eat cod on Christmas Eve, another Portuguese tradition. My mum makes traditional Portuguese food at her house sometimes as well and we chat in Portuguese. It's important.''

Newry is also important to Alice.

And she said she is thrilled that her adopted home has made thousands of people from other nationalities welcome, just as she and her family were 10 years ago.

''There are more different nationalities living here and people from here are ok with that,'' added Alice.

''Out shopping, you see more different people and hear different languages and everyone is ok with that. I think it's really good.''

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Since it first opened its doors in 2007, the Ethnic Minority Support Centre in Newry has helped over 15,000 people.

Located at Newry Town Hall, the centre provides free advice and support to minority communities in their own language about access to education, benefits, courses, housing and other general facilities.

It is the only Council-run support centre for ethnic minority residents in Northern Ireland.

''It was the Council's response to the changing demographics in the area,'' said Justyna McCabe, Programmes Manager with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

''It was to provide support to the new communities that were coming in in quite large numbers, especially Polish at that time.

Artur Kmiecik, Ethnic Minority Support Officer with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Artur Kmiecik, Ethnic Minority Support Officer with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

"In 2007, there was a need because suddenly a lot of people were coming here and the Council quickly noticed this; a lot of people with different needs and something needed to be set up for that.

''We had great support from Council management and it was thanks to them that the project took off. It's still quoted as the model of best practice by Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) because it is the only centre within the Council structures.

“I know some councils may have some support centres, but not based within the Council structure. It was a great move."

Funded through the Council's Good Relations Programme, the centre provides a free and confidential support service for ethnic minority residents.

This includes information on the EU Settlement Scheme, on housing and employment rights, help with registration with GPs, placing children in school, and advice and help with writing CVs and where to look for jobs.

It also provides assistance with benefits, appeals and official letters, as well as facilitating integration programmes.

From its inception, the centre formed strong working partnerships with agencies that it would have to work closely with such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, the PSNI and the Housing Executive.

Those relationships remain strong today and provide invaluable support to the wide range of issues and needs brought to the centre on a daily basis.

"People come with different issues," says Artur Kmiecik, Ethnic Minority Support Officer with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

"They will come with housing issues or employment issues. People will come and ask about jobs; what is available and where they should look for them.

"We help people with Universal Credit, people with tax returns, people who would like to set up a small business.

"Also, when new families arrive here, we help to arrange schools for children and help them to register with doctors and dentists. This is how we help them and we do so by using their own language to avoid misunderstanding.

"At this moment, we are able to communicate in five languages; Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, Romanian and Arabic. Most of the people that come to us have a limited knowledge of English, so we can communicate with them and help avoid misunderstandings."

The number of people using the centre is increasing every year.

Artur Kmiecik in his office at Newry Town Hall. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Artur Kmiecik in his office at Newry Town Hall. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

There has also been a change in the nationalities seeking help in recent years.

"When we started, we had about 1,500 a year on average, by 2018 we had 2,025 visits," said Artur.

"In general, our centre was visited by about 15,000 people since it opened.

"On average, we had about 1,500 to 1,800 service users every year, but in the last two or three years we've had more than 2,000 every year."

Artur said one of the reasons for the increase is the number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants.

When it opened, the centre dealt mainly with Polish and Lithuanian nationals.

But it has seen the national profile of its clients change quite dramatically since 2017 with fewer migrant workers from Poland and Lithuania using the service, and more nationals from Bulgaria and Romania.

They, he said, often arrive with little or no education and therefore require additional help.

In November last year, the centre held a Romanian Information Session in Newry with 64 Romanian nationals in attendance.

''The session lasted almost three hours and showed the level of trust that the Roma community in Newry have in our centre,'' said Artur.

''In light of recent alarming publications in the press from other regions of Northern Ireland, our meeting was and is a good sign of mutual understanding and good relations.

''Apart from the main theme from our session, two other serious concerns for the Romas were addressed; overcrowded apartments with no heating and threats of potential evictions of families with small children.''

As well as advice and assistance, the Ethnic Minority Support Centre also provides English language classes.

And in recent months, it has facilitated information sessions for various minority communities on Universal Credit and the EU Settlement Scheme, something that has caused unease in communities across the district.

Justyna says this is now the centre's biggest challenge.

"The centre will be assisting EU citizens with the EU Settlement Scheme," says Justyna.

"It will be a big demand and challenge. Everyone will have to register."

Anyone currently living in the UK who is an EU citizen will have to apply to the scheme by June 2021 in order to be allowed to stay here following the 2016 referendum result to leave the EU.

Successful applicants will be given either settled or pre-settled status.

Anyone that doesn't successfully register will then be living in the UK illegally.

"People are concerned about it," said Artur.

Artur Kmiecik. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Artur Kmiecik. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

"They feel they have been living here for a long time, they have been working here, so why should they register. This is their home. Some have bought houses here, they have children in schools, so people are very concerned and they are asking lots of questions.

"But we have material from the Home Office and we can distribute this and helping people to register."

It has caused great alarm because people are happy living in the Newry area.

Unlike some parts of Northern Ireland, the growing migrant community has been largely welcomed across the district.

"I think we are quite lucky. Because of the amount of work we have done, I think it has paid off," said Justyna.

"People do feel welcome. Probably the biggest recent challenge is with the Syrian community because there is such a difference in culture and they're at the very early stages of their settlement here, so maybe they do experience isolation, but again, we have a contact point at the support centre.

"Twice a week we have English classes, especially for Syrians, so at least they have somewhere to go and meet and ask for support."

It's a busy, and sometimes stressful schedule for the pair, but Justyna and Artur are enjoying their roles in helping new communities make Newry their home.

Artur added: "It's fascinating because you meet so many people and come across so many different cultures and different characters. It's fantastic."

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"Adults can learn a lot from children about integration," says Ewa Gorzelak-Deska.

"Children have a skill that many adults don't have; we see how they integrate and connect with each other and I think we can learn a lot from children."
A journalist by trade, Ewa works at the weekly Polish Supplementary School in Newry each Saturday.

She said it's important children to Polish parents learn the language and culture of their parents and grandparents.

It's also very important, she adds, that children integrate and form strong and lasting friendships with children from different cultures and backgrounds.
She sees that happening amongst young people in her new home of Newry.

Ewa Gorzelak-Deska at the Polish Language School held at St Joseph's High School in Newry. Photograph: NewRayPics.com
Ewa Gorzelak-Deska at the Polish Language School held at St Joseph's High School in Newry. Photograph: NewRayPics.com

But she believes more can and should be done to encourage and promote greater friendships amongst the city's adult population.

"I think adults should learn from the children because if you look at the children from different backgrounds, they are together and they connect very well," says Ewa. "That's what we should learn.

For us, Newry is our home, so we should work towards integration with the local people and with everybody in the neighbourhood.

"We should actually meet each other as a community and discover each other's culture, talk about our culture more and show our culture more because some local people don't know our culture.

"The way we should do this is through education, arts and language. Have more meetings and display our culture more. This is about assimilating more with the neighbourhood and the local people."

Ewa arrived in Newry in 2016. Along with her cats, she  followed husband Grzegorz and son Igor to Newry from her home in the southern Polish city of Zawiercie.

The 46-year-old said she immediately felt welcome when she arrived.

"My first impression of here was very, very good and I was very happy to be here, but on the other hand, I was sad because I had left my home country of Poland," said Ewa.

"I find the people very nice. They have a good manner, they have smiles on their faces and the welcome was very good.

"Because of the people of Newry, I like it here. I was very surprised in a nice way, I had heard about Irish people before. I heard a lot of good things about them, but I discovered for myself that that they are very, very good people.and was surprised in such a nice way."

Ewa, however, has struggled with one aspect of life here. While she is slowly picking up English, she believes the language barrier remains a problem for many older people in the Polish community. "I like languages and I love speaking my Polish language and I would love to speak to people in English the way I speak to people in Polish," she said.

Ewa Gorzelak-Deska  at home with her son Igor Photograph: NewrRayPics.com
Ewa Gorzelak-Deska at home with her son Igor Photograph: NewrRayPics.com

"The problem is I have a language barrier and I would like to speak English more than I do at the moment. I think because I am an older person, the younger people are learning languages quicker than I am.

"I think the problem is I don't have enough Irish friends; if I had more Irish friends, I could speak English to them and learn the language quicker and faster and the barrier would be gone forever.

  Ella Pawlowska  and Ewa Gorzelak-Deska at the Polish Language School. Photograph:Newraypics.com
Ella Pawlowska and Ewa Gorzelak-Deska at the Polish Language School. Photograph:Newraypics.com

"I think I need to spend more time with my neighbourhood and with Irish people and then practice and practice makes the language perfect. School wouldn't be as good as practice because school is school, but if you speak the language with Irish friends, then you practice and learn quicker."

Ewa still has family in Poland and is in regular contact with them. In recent months, much of those conversations have been about Brexit and the possible implications it may bring. 

"I speak to my family on a daily basis about what is happening here and how I am going here," she said.
"I am very happy to speak to them about that. I am still missing my country and still 50 per cent of myself is in Poland, but I love here also. I speak a lot to my family about Newry and the adventures where we go and how I spend my free time. When I speak to them on the phone I tell them when they come over here they will see for themselves.

"We talk a lot about Brexit which is the main subject at the moment, but we are a little bit tired of the subject because nobody knows what is coming. We don't know what the future is yet. We are worried, but I don't think it's going to be as bad as people make out it's going to be. We have to wait and see what happens and I don't think we, as a minority, will be affected by it very badly."

Ewa's not too concerned about what may unfold over the coming weeks as the March 29 deadline draws closer.

Instead, she remains focused on her work with the growing number of children at the Polish school close to her Armagh Road home.

"I'm very happy to do this job," she adds.

"What makes me happy about working at the school is seeing children coming and learning the Polish language, learning the Polish culture. They are very happy and are good listeners. That makes me happy about my job. That makes me happy here."

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Growing up in Kiev, politics was often discussed around the dinner table in Oksana McMahon’s house.

Her dad worked for the Ukrainian government, both before and after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

So when Oksana moved to Ireland with her husband and daughter 20 years ago, it was perhaps unsurprising that she would eventually become involved in local politics.

Oksana McMahon, Deputy Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Photographs: NewRayPics.com
Oksana McMahon, Deputy Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Photographs: NewRayPics.com

She was co-opted on to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in March 2017.

Just over a year later, Oksana was elected Deputy Chairperson of the Council – the first Ukrainian national to hold such a title in Northern Ireland.

It was a proud moment for the mum-of-two.

More so, she hopes it helps inspire people from ethnic minority communities to become politically active in their new home and use politics as a force for change.

“I was very proud to be elected deputy chairperson,” said Oksana.

“Being a Sinn Fein representative on the Council, I was extremely humbled and honoured, then a year on I became the Deputy Chairperson, so it was a very proud moment for me.

“My mum was so proud too and she told me that my dad, who passed away four years ago, would be really, really proud too which meant so much.

"There is a big Polish and Lithuanian community here - I don't think there are as many Ukrainians or Russians - and I hope my example shows what you can achieve if you have the mindset and drive.

“I would love more people from different ethnic backgrounds to get involved politically.”

Oksana McMahon wearing her chain of office.
Oksana McMahon wearing her chain of office.

Oksana also hopes she can inspire young women to become involved in politics and have their voices heard.

“My example can also be used for any women looking to get involved in politics,” she said.

“A lot of young women are coming forward and interested in becoming politicians, so yes, I hope I can set an example and encourage more people from ethnic minority backgrounds and more women to become involved in politics.”

Following in her mum’s footsteps, Oksana studied Modern Languages at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv.

As part of the course, students were sent out on work placement and encouraged to find English-speaking companies to enhance their own English.

She spent time with a firm working on a major contract at Kiev International Airport and it was with this firm she met her Newry husband.

The couple had a daughter and spent five years living in Kiev.

They then decided to move to Ireland.

"It was a big decision for me because I was leaving all my friends and family behind,” said Oksana.

“We came to Newry and it was a completely different surroundings I was used to coming from a big city with over three million people.

"First of all I was really amazed how green everything was. There were beautiful houses, people really looked after them and they were all decorated with flowers; it made a really good impression on me.

"In Kiev, it was a really fast-paced life, coming here it was fresher, with very friendly people. And not once have I ever experienced any sort of hostility or people comment on me not being welcome here. Never."

The couple had a second daughter and Oksana worked with her husband’s firm.

But the draw of politics was never far away.

“I was always interested in politics,” she said.

“My dad worked for the government, so you can understand what kind of discussions we had.

“At school we were taught about different countries, about their political structures, their economic structures and population and customs and traditions, so we were quite clued in.

“It's very important for the person, no matter where they live, to have a voice and to be involved in politics, especially if you want to change something in the society you live in.”

Oksana joined Sinn Fein.

She said the party was the obvious and only choice for her.

Oksana McMahon, Deputy Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. Photographs: NewRayPics.com
Oksana McMahon speaking to reporter Brian Hyland.

“The party stands for equality, integrity and respect, and that sums it up. I think it's a very inclusive and progressive party,” she said.

“I have been living here for over 20 years and this is my input into the local community - being a councillor provides you with a platform to speak for the people of the region you live and represent their views.”

In her role as a councillor, she said she has met many people from ethnic minority communities that now call Newry their home.

She said the uncertainty of Brexit is a major concern for people in these communities and hailed the work of the Council’s Ethnic Minority Support Centre – the only of its kind in the north – for helping and guiding people through this difficult period.

“People are not sure what is going to happen and they are very concerned,” said Oksana.

“A lot of them have made the Newry, Mourne and Down district their home, but now circumstances are changing and there is a great unknown and people are very nervous.

“The Ethnic Minority Support Centre is engaging with various communities about Brexit and getting people registered.

"It's a brilliant initiative by our Council. They are extremely busy and deal with many different issues.

“It's very important the Council thinks about expanding these structures and trying to help people because there is a big community living here in need of advice and help.”

Away from politics, Oksana enjoys walking, sports and enjoying quality time with her family.

She said she “loves the spirit of Irish people” and believes here is one of the safest environments to raise her two daughters.

She speaks to her mum every day on Skype and visits her and her family in Ukraine at least once a year; she loves it as it gives gives her and her daughters the chance to speak the native tongue and reconnect and embrace the Ukrainian culture.

She said she hopes peace can be found soon in her homeland following the ongoing unrest caused by the 2014 invasion by Russia and annexation of Crimea.

She is also hoping to be elected for the first time in the local government elections in May.

“I am really happy where I am,” added Oksana.

“Deputy Chair consumes a lot of your time every day. But I love it, I love meeting people I have never met before and visiting places across the district I have never been.”

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Newry should be very proud of itself for the way it has welcomed and befriended the many nationalities that has made the district their home.

This, says Jerome Mullen, Honorary Polish Consul, has helped the city become one of the most diverse and inclusive in Ireland.

He is one of four local people to serve as an honorary consul in recent times.

"It speaks a lot for the area," says Jerome.

"It's very unusual that you would have four honorary consuls located in the one place, which is what has happened over the last number of years.

Jerome Mullen. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Jerome Mullen. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

"And I think it does show the diversity of Newry, and how Newry has embraced European communities, and other communities, that have come to live and work here and how valued they have been made in relation to the workplace.

"I was giving a talk at MJM recently on the new settled status situation that will arise after the UK leaves the European Union, and in that room, I was flabbergasted; there were 100 workers, mainly all Polish, but also including Spanish, Bulgarian and a few other nationalities.

"It demonstrates the diversity of Newry as a welcoming place, that Newry is for minority communities."

A key part of this, he says, is the Council decision to establish an Ethnic Minority Centre in Newry.

Since it opened in 2007, it has helped over 15,000 people on housing and employment rights, registration for public services, education and many other wide-ranging issues and queries.

It is the only Council-funded Ethnic Minority Centre in Northern Ireland.

"What we have done over the years is we have reached out to these communities and recognised them, and one of the very important things that happened really early was when the Council established its Ethnic Minority Office in the Town Hall, which is always busy helping people," said Jerome.

Tom Kelly. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Tom Kelly. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

"This plays a huge role in making people feel welcome; they understand what services are available to them and that they're not feeling like strangers living here, especially when there's a language barrier in many cases.

"Those are all very positive things and I think Newry should be very proud of itself."

Norbrook founder Lord Ballyedmond served as Honorary Consul to Chile.

Dr Gerard O'Hare was Honorary Consul to Latvia until recently.

Tom Kelly, Newry businessman and political commentator, was appointed Honorary Consul for Malta in 2007.

He believes Newry's growing multicultural society has not only enriched the city, but has challenged and changed the minds of many people.

"Diversity adds to a richness and stops people being very insular," he said.

"From the society which we grew up in, which was very inward looking and was probably dominated by two tribes, it's great to see the other cultures and nations coming here to live and work and bringing their expertise and their colour to the picture, because, in some ways, as much as they choose Ireland as the place they want to live, it also means Ireland becomes much more outward looking and that's what I think makes the difference."

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Beautifully crafted ornaments of some of Africa's most wonderful animals line the window of David Olara’s living room.

It's his way of ensuring a little bit of his east African roots form part of his new home in Warrenpoint.

David moved to Ireland last year with his Kilkeel-born wife and young son.

It was a huge decision.

"It really was a bold decision to make because I had to leave family members," says David

"Back home I was running a business and also working with the Uganda Rugby Union. So having to leave friends behind, having to leave family behind, really was a bold decision, but, at the end of the day, I had to move."

David Olara. Photographs: NewRayPics.com
David Olara. Photographs: NewRayPics.com

David was born and raised in Gulu in northern Uganda.

He was a child when civil war waged between the Ugandan army and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Two of the casualties of the war included David's parents who were killed when he was just six.

"I was born in a family of four," said David.

"Unfortunately my parents were both killed when I was six-years-old. They were killed in an ambush.

"So I grew up with my granddad, grandma and my aunt. Growing up was really hard for me because northern Uganda had been in the forefront of the 25-year war between the LRA and Ugandan government.

"So as a child growing up in a a war-zone without your parents was really hard for me."

David ran a successful barber and boutique business in Gulu.

He also worked as a coach for the Uganda Rugby Union; he represented his country at rugby at U23 level, but a series of injuries forced him into early retirement and robbed him of his dream of playing for the senior team.

"I had a dream to play for the national team, but that dream was not realised," said David.

"But the big thing I was doing with Ugandan rugby was coaching and it's something I would like to get involved in here."

David's love of the sport is how he met his wife.

"She was working in Uganda with a governmental organisation and we met during a rugby game and picked it up from the," said David.

"Two years after we met, we relocated to Nairobi in Kenya and that's where we got married. Two years after that, she was offered a job in Belfast and we decided to move and that is the reason I'm here."

David and his family relocated to Ireland in March last year.

It was a huge change for him culturally and climatically.

"It's a big contrast, but I have a very good impression of the place," he says.

"Lovely people, lovely scenery. I have very good support from my in-laws, they have really helped me with here being a very different place from home.The people of this town are lovely.

"The only downside is I really had to adjust to the weather. It's very cold and a big contrast to where I come from, but I'm getting there."

Importantly, son Liam has also settled well.

He was in born in Kenya in 2017.

His African heritage will be explained and championed by his dad as he grows older.

"I think he has settled in well," said David.

David Olara relaxing at home in Warrenpoint.
David Olara relaxing at home in Warrenpoint.

"He adjusted well to the weather. He likes it here, he runs around a lot. He attends toddler groups in the town and he has already made a few friends.

"I want to try and balance things a bit. Once in a while I talk to him in my native language - most of the time it's English - but I want him to know the other part of the story as well, so I speak to him in the native language of the Acoli tribe in Uganda

"I bought him Acoli dictionaries and books to help him learn and understand it."

Liam's family back home miss the little fella.

But they keep in regular touch through social media and David says they will visit regularly when Liam's a little older.

"Family back home are missing us, especially Liam," said David.

"Liam was born and then we decided to moved, so they have not spent so much time with him and they really wanted to spend more time with him as he grows up, but it will only be a matter of time before we start moving back and forth with him."

For now, David is focused on his future here.

He's a full-time dad at the minute due to mum's busy work schedule.

Holder of a degree in computer science and an experienced animator, he is currently doing a security course to allow him to look for work in the security industry.

"When the time comes, I will get into the right line of work," he says.

But there's no rush yet.

He's spending quality time with his family and enjoying life in his adopted homeland.

"I love it here," adds David.

"I miss home, yes, that's a fact, but I love it here.

"I love being around my lovely child, my wife, being around people that love me and make me feel at home."

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