Reflecting on Refugee Festival Scotland’s closing ceremony

Artist Sadia Sikandar looks back at our Refugee Festival Scotland closing ceremony in Banchory on 23rd June.

Celebration of Culture and Unity at Mural Opening and Refugee Festival Closing Ceremony

Banchory, June 23, 2024 – The city was alive with vibrant cultural expressions and communal harmony as we celebrated the grand opening of my mural and the closing ceremony of the Refugee Festival Scotland.

The event commenced with the enchanting melodies of Kurdish music, followed by uplifting Ukrainian songs that set the tone for a day filled with joy and camaraderie.

Attendees were treated to a delightful array of Ukrainian homemade food, which I had the pleasure of trying for the first time. The flavors were extraordinary and left everyone wanting more. The festivities continued with various outdoor activities, including kite flying, football, and dancing, ensuring that no one was left out of the fun.

Indoors, participants engaged in creative pursuits such as paper bird origami, which I had the opportunity to teach. Despite the challenges, everyone embraced the task with enthusiasm and success. Others expressed their creativity through dance and heart designing, inscribing beautiful messages within their creations.

A segment of Sadia’s mural, unveiled during the event.
Celebrating resilience and diversity

Following these engaging activities, we savored a delicious Turkish meal provided by Olives Tree Banchory. The event was enriched by Ukrainian refugees who shared insightful information about their country’s rich history and culture, including captivating performances by talented Ukrainian singers.

The CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, Sabir Zazai, delivered a heartfelt speech, greeting attendees in multiple languages, which underscored his profound respect for each refugee. He also reflected on the arduous journeys of asylum seekers, highlighting the resilience and strength of the refugee community.

I then took the stage to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to the success of the mural project, including GREC Language Café Aberdeen and various community groups in Glasgow. The collaboration and dedication from all involved were pivotal in bringing this project to fruition.

The event concluded on a high note with overwhelming appreciation, love, and support from the audience towards me, as well as commendations from Sabir Zazai. These moments of unity and accomplishment are not only a testament to our collective efforts but also a beacon of hope for many asylum seekers aspiring to achieve their dreams.

Sadia Sikandar speaking in Banchory on 23rd June 2024.

As we reflect on this celebration, we are reminded of the power of togetherness and solidarity. “In unity, we find strength; in solidarity, we find hope.” The exceptional staff from the Scottish Refugee Council and the dedicated volunteers from BAN ensured that every aspect of the event was impeccably organized and executed.

This celebration stands as a significant milestone, fostering a sense of community and encouraging continued support for refugees and asylum seekers in their journey toward a brighter future.