Enough is enough, wear the crown of the festival

By Aaron Berhane June 1, 2007 Every summer, different cultural festivals are organized to entertain our community. Artists come from back home. They a...

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By Aaron Berhane
June 1, 2007

Every summer, different cultural festivals are organized to entertain our community. Artists come from back home. They alleviate our longings for home by singing, and they help some of us indulge our thirst for our traditional dances. Above all, these festivals are a good excuse for family members and friends to meet the many people who flock to it.

If the money raised on such occasions is invested in the service of the Eritrean Canadian community, I am sure many of our problems would have been solved.

However, we haven’t paid attention yet. We seem satisfied solely by the entertainment. We haven’t had the chance to explore our shortcomings. We never ask, “Who is using the name of our community to run the festival? Why is the Eritrean Canadian community, as a whole, becoming poorer even though members of our community are donating generously? Either we have thought it was wise not to ask these questions or we are naïve. Our mouth has been zipped up for a long time. Now we must speak up.

We badly want to see change! Our community center faces dire financial challenges. It has trouble paying the rent and wonders how it can provide services for children and seniors. It also finds it challenging to provide educational services. It is becoming totally dependent on membership fees.
Sure, our community has tried to raise some funds, but it hasn’t attempted to organize the events in the summer – the fertile months for raising funds. Every year, about seven events are organized on the name of our community, and about $200,000 is raised. None of it dropped into our community account. We should never allow this to happen.

The Eritrean Canadian community must play the main role in organizing the festivals. It must make the festivals a tool to strengthen our unity, preserve our culture and encourage our youth in education and the arts. It must set proportional prices for the services it provides. The most important thing is for the Eritrean Canadian community to be transparent so that people will see themselves as a part of it. Enough is enough. Our community must wear the crown of the festival.

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