Review of the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Event hosted by I Smile International
on 11th October 2017
On Wednesday 11th October 2017, in Avondale Community Centre, Mulhuddart, Dublin 15. I Smile International hosted an event, as part of the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This day is marked by thousands of organizations around the world who are committed to the fight to stop poverty. I Smile International put on a spectacular event, inviting international guest speakers who came to use their voice to tell their stories and the stories of others who have either experienced or are still living daily with the often-devastating effects of poverty. The effects of poverty and a reminder of how close each and everyone one of us are to falling prey to the poverty trap, was further highlighted by the drama ‘The Tunnel’ produced by Kule Animashaum and performed by the I Smile drama group.
The event was opened by the chairperson Yvonne Foran who offered a warm welcome to all present and reminded us that for many women around the world poverty is more than just word, it’s a way of life. It forms the very fabric of their society, creating moments of great sorrow as they lose family members to hunger, homelessness and disease. On the other side of poverty there is community, laughter and family. These women have amazing stories to share, all they need is an opportunity to use their voice and connect with others using their smiles, for there is nothing more captivating than a woman’s smile whether she is young or old, her smile speaks a thousand words. Her voice can melt the hardest heart and stir the greatest emotion.
Our first guest speaker was Pierre Klien who spoke about the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty, what it really means, what its objectives and primary focus is, “To give people a voice” to bring about change and end world poverty.
Pierre and his team, then delighted us all by asking us to take part in a photo shoot to promote a new symbol that is easily recognizable and most effective in the fight against poverty. We were each given a cut out hand, from an assortment of colours with the words ‘Stop Poverty’ written on them. We then lined up and shouted out Stop Poverty! Each one of us was inspired by the power behind these words.
Our second speaker was Shirley Clarke, Shirley shared with us her brave story about leaving America and a life that she was familiar with, to be reunited with her family who live in Ireland. Shirley explained that even though leaving America meant that she would be facing the challenges of uncertainty, learning about a new culture and having to face the prospects of finding work to support herself, that she was no stranger to meeting these challenges. Growing up as a young child in a family that did not have much money and struggling to face the everyday challenges of life, had given her the strength of character that she would need to face the future challenges of her own life.
Shirley went on to explain that the one thing that her family shared was a love of music. As a young child Shirley learnt to sing and play the guitar, as time went by Shirley started to write and perform her own songs for people outside of her family. Shirley’s talents were recognized by family and friends who encouraged her to cut a CD and send it into a radio station here in Ireland. Her music has since delighted many listeners.
To conclude her talk, Shirley took up her guitar and sang for us. We were all so spell bound by how well she played and by the moving lyrics of her song, that we asked her to play another.
Our third speaker was Nwogo Enwerem, Nwogo shared with us a story of a young woman she had meet during her trip to Kaduna in the Northern part of Nigeria. This young woman was only twenty-two years old and was living in abject poverty, she had two small children and was surviving by whatever limited means were available to her. Nwogo showed us photographs of this young woman and the appalling make shift accommodation, that both her and her children live in. These pictures showed a young woman robbed of her youth, a tear stained face broken from the hardship of, I would like to say living, but the stark reality is more harrowing, “existence”. Existence in a cruel harsh environment that is not shown to the world at large, but hidden away from seeing eyes because to know the truth, is almost too harsh to be believed.
Nwogo went on to explain that she is holding several exhibitions throughout Dublin to highlight not only this young woman’s story but those of others she encountered throughout her time in Kaduna. To bring about a greater awareness of what is happening and to gain support to bring about change and hope to the lives of those, who are unable without our assistance to improve their circumstances.
Our fourth speaker was Kesava Gollapalli, Kesava spoke about the Fingal Ethnic Network (FEN) located in the Base Centre in Mulhuddart. This service was established in 2006 to provide a coherent and inclusive voice for ethnic groups in the area on matters relating to their well-being in Fingal. The network promotes awareness of issues relevant to ethnic communities and strives to strengthen integration within the wider community. Kesava, spoke about the importance of supporting local community organizations such as I Smile International who had provided the opportunity for members of the community to take part in the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Events such as these give the community a chance to show their solidarity in the fight against poverty.
After the speakers had finished the I Smile Drama Group took centre stage to perform their production of ‘The Tunnel’.
The story was narrated by Abimbola Wise, who appeared on stage to share with the audience a moment in a family’s life that was to change everything. A moment that showed us all how fragile life is and how quickly it can all change (If I may quote, there but for the grace of god go anyone of us).
The story reflects on an ordinary couple, a husband played by Oluwayomi Ogunyemi and a wife played by Ifemoma Momoh, who greet each other in the morning and set about their lives free from the care of the world, happy in the knowledge that all is good. However, events are to unfold that day and subsequently within the days and weeks to come that will change their lives forever. Unravelling the blanket of comfort and security that has surrounded their lives and throwing it into a new domain of disbelief, uncertainty, financial ruin and despair.
The performances given by Oluwayomi and Ifemoma, made it easy for the audience to connect and relate to every moment of the drama as it unfolded. The emotions they displayed toward each other appeared to be real and enabled the audience to share in their joy, when things were good between the characters and to empathize, when things became more difficult.
Members of the audience shared with me after the drama performance, how true to life it was, and that each one of them found themselves at some point nodding their head, as they connected with a line, or an act that was familiar to either their lives or that of someone they knew.
To conclude the talks and drama, Adaku Ezeudo founder of I Smile International thanked everyone present for their outstanding contribution towards making the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty such a success. Adaku spoke about how the stories, songs and drama shared here with us at this event, evoked all kinds of emotions and caused us all to reflect. The most positive outcome of this event Adaku reminded us was the show of solidarity, inspiration and commitment to bringing about change no matter how small, shown by everyone present.
A special thank you was extended to Ray Productions for videoing the entire event and to James photography for their outstanding work. Adaku also extended a very special thank you to Nike Okesiji our MC for the day. Nike’s professionalism shone through as she introduced each speaker and informed everyone about what was happening next and kept the whole event on track.
Much to the delight of everyone present Adaku then invite us all to some light refreshments, and the opportunity to mingle and get to know each other better.