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Outside In: Celebrating Human Rights through the Arts

“An emotional roller coaster of an event,”

That’s how the dramatic event at the Temple of Peace on 18th May, in partnership with the Josef Herman Arts Foundation, was described.  The Dragons Heart and Dragons Soul performance through music and dance, powerfully depicting the persecution of people with learning disabilities under the Nazi regime, brought many to tears. The Oasis Choir and Drummers, comprising performers from the local community and asylum seekers, performed songs that had been written by members – some haunting, some to lift the spirits. Oscar Castellino (accompanied by Gareth Llyr Simon) gave a wonderful taster for the Welsh National Opera’s forthcoming Freedom season.  WCIA is proud to be partnering with the WNO in some of the events surrounding the opera productions in the Freedom Season, so do come along.

Refugees from Iran, Syria, Congo and Cameroun told emotional stories about the loss of human rights through persecution because of their language, political views or because they dared to speak out.  Cardiff based poet, Ali Goolyad, gave a beautiful demonstration of why Somalia is called the country of poets, by performing some of his own work.

Participants were sustained by a tasty lunch generously sponsored by Unite. Everyone was given the chance to think about how they can join in campaigning to protect human rights through an interactive Changemakers session led by Jane Harries of WCIA.

Josef Herman, an artist and Jewish refugee from Poland, found a home and inspiration in Ystradgynlais. A film by local school children, depicting his emotional story of loss and finding a new home was shown. His son, David Herman, spoke powerfully about the importance of continuing to uphold human rights.

The musical finale was communal singing, guided by Frankie Armstrong, and a mass drumming session. “It was a most memorable day.  We ended on a high note of hope, reflecting the key message of one of the asylum seekers’ songs: ‘Never Give Up’. “