Day of Families Observed in Dublin

Dublin, Ireland - UPF-Ireland arranged for a celebration of the United Nations International Day of Families at the Lantern Centre in Dublin on May 15. The topic given for the meeting was: “Confronting Family Poverty and Social Exclusion.”

Dr. Michael Murray, director of the Lantern Centre, welcomed us all and helped make the evening something special to remember. Established in 2007 with the support of the Christian Brothers, the Lantern Centre hosts activities for immigrants from 30 nations. It calls itself "a place of hospitality for interfaith and intercultural dialogue."

The program started after a lot of good people arrived, registered, and had something nice to eat in the dining hall that was decorated and beautifully set up.

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The Dublin theatre group “Knotblood” started the evening program with a short piece from a play by a South African playwright about two brothers who recalled their different experiences from their childhood. The Slovakian folk dance group “Astroha” appeared in their colourful national costumes and set a very light tone for the rest of the evening. A lengthy and excellent program of songs and dance put everybody in a good mood to start the more serious part of the evening.

The lecture “The Family as a School of love” presented by the Secretary General of UPF-Ireland, Halvard K. Iversen, described how people were supposed to learn to find true love in their family by going through certain stages of relationships, understanding, and development and how the parents’ influence on their children was one of most importance as the primary role model.

Representatives of different ethnic groups were invited to take part in a panel discussion about the challenges they met coming to Ireland. Living through the Celtic Tiger period of economic boom and now facing the downturn with many government budget cuts for the different services that were set up to cater for all the people that came to this country presented many problems for the different families. Different approaches to the problems were suggested, and the audience participated with questions and suggestions to the panel chaired by Dr. Patrick Walsh, director of the Lantern Centre.

In this more economically difficult situation, the participants were encouraged to take on the challenges themselves and not depend on hand‐outs from the government and their respective embassies. Cliodhna Martin (Home School Liaison Teacher in Dublin 8) explained how even most needed language teacher positions were axed by the present government and how this created more problems for the integration process in which especially the elder generations of immigrants remain very isolated.

The evening was rounded off by Mr Pierluigi Coscia, who gave an inspiring talk on how he for a long time wanted to do something substantial to help solve the situation for the millions of children around the world who die or get no education because of poverty. He presented a business plan and how he had started FairTour, a company promoting tourism in different parts of the world, where all profits are returned to the children of the target countries. FairTour is already established in several countries, and he is continually pushing to reach out to more.

The fact that many people remained after the program for further exchanges and fellowship indicated that the evening had been very successful.

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