Asylum seekers take centre stage at Cork's World Music event

Asylum seekers take centre stage at Cork's World Music event
Mark Mulvilhill, Sound solutions ;Brothers Gursewak and Gurcharan Singh from India in front with back from left, Olga Voytemko, Russia ; Roos Demol, organiser; Syed Mosih Uddin, Bangladesh; Andrii Antoniuk, Ukraine; Norbert Nkengurutse , Burundi ; Derek Dunne, proprietor Bul McCabes and Sofya Abashko Russia playing in the family friendly music day at Bull McCabe's in aid of guitars for People in Direct Provision on this SundayPicture: Eddie O'Hare

“THE more you get involved, the more there is to do,” says Roos Demol with a smile.

The Belgian native has lived in Ireland for more than 20 years, and she is one of the main organisers of tomorrow’s World Music at Bull McCabe’s.

Musicians from across the globe will gather at 3pm at the Bull McCabe’s on Cork’s Kinsale Road, for a free, family-friendly festival of music.

Visitors will enjoy Ethiopian jazz, Russian instrumental music, Burundian drumming, traditional Irish music and much more.

The weather forecast is good, and all are welcome.

Roos Demol, a musician who has spent a lot of time working with asylum seekers, thought bringing music into their lives would be a way to help those stuck in direct provision centres.

“When you are with your instrument it is likely you have a relationship with it and you forget all the rest, so I thought it would be good for them,” she said.

“We started on Facebook looking for guitars and then we had guitar teachers offering to give us free lessons. It was really nice.

“Since then we have collected about 13 guitars, three keyboards, some drums and a flute. We have one teacher who comes every week and other teachers come during the summer.”

The direct provision camp on the Kinsale Road is home to approximately 275 souls, asylum-seekers who have come to Ireland seeking refuge, some of them families with small children, and who live in boredom and despair.

Roos Demol and Norbert Nkengurutse organisers of the family-friendly music day at Bull McCabe's in aid of guitars for People in Direct Provision on this SundayPicture: Eddie O'Hare
Roos Demol and Norbert Nkengurutse organisers of the family-friendly music day at Bull McCabe's in aid of guitars for People in Direct Provision on this SundayPicture: Eddie O'Hare

Roos Demol first gained access to the Kinsale Road direct provision centre in 2014, when its residents went on strike.

Since then, she has been a champion and friend to many of the residents there.

Tomorrow’s concerts follow on the success of last year’s inaugural event and — apart from the Bull McCabe’s resident traditional Irish band — every musician playing there will be asylum-seekers living in direct provision.

All monies raised on Sunday will be split 50/50 between Roos’ charity “Guitars for People in Direct Provision” (which can be found on Facebook or at @vlinierland) and St Raphaël’s Scouts group of Bujumbura, which helps street children in Burundi.

Among the musicians playing at the Bull McCabe’s on Sunday will be the Abashko family from Russia, with Alexander, Olga and Sofia playing traditional Russian music and American jazz.

Andrii Antononiuk is 39, a construction engineer from the Ukraine.

He is seeking asylum here with his wife and three children.

He will perform songs about the social problems in his native Odessa, songs he feels may have resonance here.

Norbert Nkengurutse is from Burundi, and he is a former national executive coordinator of the Burundi Scouting Association.

He is now a member of the Fin Barre’s Scouts in Douglas, and he is part of the Royal Drummers of Burundi. They will play a big part of Sunday’s festivities.

The Kinsale Road direct provision centre is a grim place on its sunniest day, and there are thirty-plus like it dotted around the country.

The Glenvera on Wellington Road is completely full, holding 107 people. Originally Glenvera was for single men only.

Now four women live in one room there, surrounded by the men.

The old Ashbourne House Hotel out in Glounthane has 95 people, also including families with children.

Almost nobody in Cork has ever visited a direct provision centre.

“The best way to dispel prejudice is to just meet people and let people talk and tell their stories,” says Roos.

You could make a difference just by calling to the Bull McCabe’s on Sunday afternoon and talking with some of the guests our nation rarely acknowledges. It’ll be a fun afternoon, and your kindness might just help to make our country a better, more welcoming place.

Bull McCabe’s, Sunday, from 3pm. As well as music, there will be a raffle and a barbecue. The afternoon is free, but donations will be accepted for instruments and to buy schoolbooks for the children in the accommodation centre. Donations of instruments also welcome

Donal O’Keeffe looks ahead to a unique music event taking place in Cork tomorrow, World Music at Bull McCabe’s bar on the Kinsale Road. He speaks to organiser Roos Demol about the celebration of music by asylum seekers in Cork.

More in this section

Sponsored Content