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Ethnic group ‘blown away’ by support for Diwali

 

 
A MEMBER of a local ethnic association has said she is “blown away” by the amount of support they have received for a community festival which failed to secure any funding from council this year. 
 
Two weeks ago, members of Strabane Ethnic Community Association (SECA) vented their fury at Derry City and Strabane District Council’s decision to deny almost £5,000 of crucial funding for their yearly Diwali Festival, which was to take place in November. 
 
Since the Chronicle revealed this news last week an array of local groups, individuals and councillors have pledged their support for SECA’s festival. Most significantly Strabane Chamber of Commerce have pledged a significant level of financial help, and donations have begun to flood in to the group’s JustGiving page.
 
According to Kamini Rao, manager of SECA, the group have been humbled by the community response. 
 
“We are blown away with just how much support the group has received since this time last week,” she said. “Countless people have been contacting us in support, and donations to the JustGiving page have been impressive. One individual donated £100, which really blew us away, and the fact that the Chamber are behind us with financial support is absolutely fantastic. I am also waiting to hear back from the Halifax Foundation which could be another source of funding.
 
“Last week we pledged that Diwali would go ahead regardless of the funding setback, and we are reassured that our fund-raising target is within reach,” Kamini added. 
 
Explaining why the Chamber had been so quick to add their support, president Martin Gallen said the Diwali is too important for Strabane to lose. 
 
“As a Chamber we know how important the festival was locally, and within 24 hours of hearing about the funding crisis, we spoke to Commerce members about helping out. So far, six local businesses have pledged their financial support, with more to come. It is clear the event means a great deal to everyone in Strabane. 
 
“So, as a Chamber, we are keen to promote ethnic minorities in the local area and we want to ensure that despite the actions of the council, Strabane will not lose one of its most important events.”
                                                                               
With SECA well on their way to hitting their fund-raising goal, Kamini Rao added, “The festival has been going for the past 12 years, and suffice to say we were annoyed when the council didn’t approve funding. However, I think the support we have received will prove just how important this event is to the town.” 
 
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