Easter Monday in Cranbourne West was full of laughter, colour and fun as families enjoyed the first ever African Cultural Day Awards.
This event was hosted by Multicultural Youth Support Services (MYSS), at Cranbourne West Community Hub.
Families came to celebrate the vibrant African culture and the achievements of youth within the south-eastern African-Australian community.
“We weren’t sure about the weather in the morning but it turned out to be great sunny day” said MYSS project manager and speaker Danyal Diallo
The celebrations started outdoors with children enjoying a nearby playground, impromptu soccer games, a barbecue lunch and face painting by Mel’s Face Painting Melbourne.
As the weather cooled down the families headed inside the hub for the formalities of the day.
“It was a huge turnout; we were expecting between 50-100 people to arrive; it turned out in big numbers,” Mr Diallo said.
Guests enjoyed an array of traditional African dances as well as a speech given by an inspirational year 12 student from the MYSS Homework Club, Sarah Machar.
Sarah shared the challenges she has faced coming into a new country and learning a new language from scratch.
The event acknowledged the hard work of MYSS in connecting the community, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic when MYSS staff distributed supermarket vouchers and advocated for better support for members of the community.
This hard work was acknowledged and recognised by the City of Casey, which named MYSS the ‘2021 Community Group of the Year’ earlier this year.
MYSS founder Peter Mamer Aguto and Mr Diallo thanked those who have been supporting the organisation.
Mr. Aguto said: “MYSS is a product for African communities that is led by the community and for the community.
“It is a privilege to serve the community in such a direct way. It’s fulfilling having to see the seeds we plant in our generation and to ponder on what they may become in the future, I thank God for it all,” he said.
Mr. Aguto spoke of the “power of unity” to connect the African community to each other and the wider south-eastern community.
Tribute was paid to the assistance received from the State Government, especially Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ross Spence, for being supportive toward African communities during the Covid-19 crisis.
Bass MP Jordan Crugnale was in attendance on behalf of the Minister.
“We are grateful for your unwavering commitment to community as it is a vital part of what makes Victoria one of the world’s most successful multicultural societies,” she said in a speech on the day.
“This event is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and experience the diverse and rich traditions of African heritage.”
After the speeches, a number of awards were given out.
Recipients included Sarah Machar for the Spirit of Education and Perseverance, Master of Social Work (MSW)students at Federation University, Dinka Group Melbourne Lions and the Acholi Group.
MYSS is currently searching for volunteers in the community to help out with its Homework Club and other initiatives. If you would like to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0481 213 384.