Published by Ekurd Daily, September 29, 2015
BRUSSELS,— Kurds staged a four-day music, dance and artistic extravaganza in Brussels to raise funds for the recaptured city of Kobani and celebrate Kurdish morale.
People at one stand at the Kurdish Culture Week festival, which closed Sunday, told Rudaw they hoped some of the money will help build a school in the Syrian Kurdish city that will be shaped in the letters S-C-H-O-O-L, so that overflying warplanes avoid bombing it.
People at another hoped the funds will also go toward medical help for international fighters in the broader region of Rojova, making the second annual Kurdish festival in the Belgian capital not just a cultural event but a fundraising platform.
“We decided this year to also make it some kind of charity event to raise funds and awareness about Kobani and the war that happened there,” according to Mauro Desira, an official at the Kurdish Institute of Brussels, which helped organize the event.
“The funds are for reconstructing Kobani,” he said.
The Comité Shengal Charleroi, which is made of many Belgian Kurds aged between 16 and 36, ran one of the stands, seeking to raise money for a new project to build an ecological school in Kobani.
Committee President Nazili Yildirim said the material would be natural and locally sourced, so that the school of 16 classrooms for 30 students each will be durable and relatively cheap to build, at between 300,000 and 350,000 euros.
It will also have a vegetable garden and animals and will be built so that its buildings spell out S-C-H-O-O-L, she said.
Other stands sold Kurdish food, including pastries filled with herbs and cheese, or Kurdish scarves and different trinkets. A stand run by “Secours Rouge” collected money to pay for medical help for wounded international fighters in Rojova.
On Friday night, three Kurdish singers Pinar Yildiz, Mehmet Akbas and Rotinda staged a concert featuring patriotic and martial songs as a crowd of about 200 people interlocked arms and kicked their feet in a traditional dance.
“We are Kurds and we want to give something to the young since we all hear about our massacres and sad, heavy things. We want to give something different,” Pinar told Rudaw after the concert.
“Our singing is also a way of resistance. The guerrillas fight but we sing and this is our way of resisting. We are sayingthat we are still here and we are not going to stop living.” Pinar said.
“Our songs are a mix of different kinds of songs. Rotinda sings for the guerrillas who died fighting. Mehmet sings popular songs and I sing mystic songs,” Pinar said.
Ferat, a 46-year-old Belgian Kurd from the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, said he enjoyed listening to singers he likes but that there should be more events like this.
“I know those three singers, I listen to their CDs,” said the food chain worker who has lived in Belgium for 14 years.
“This year there was only one event and this is not enough. To collect donations there should be two or three events per year,” he said when asked about the goal of the festival.
Fatma, a 35-year-old Kurdish Belgian social worker who has been living for the past 23 years in Belgium, regretted turnout was relatively low.
“It was a good initiative but unfortunately it was not advertised in the Belgian media. I just heard about it yesterday by word of mouth and I did not have enough time to tell my Belgian friends about it.”
Helene Kartal, a 13-year-old Kurdish Belgian said “I am here to support Rojova and Kobani because they are at war.”
The festival also featured Kurdish movies like “the Children of Diyarbakir”, “On the Way to School” and “A Time For Drunken Horses.”
Mauro said the KNK, the Kurdistan National Congress, was responsible for choosing the program and the Kurdish Institute was responsible for the administration and the logistics.
Other organizations such as YKK, the Kurdish student organization, and Maison du Peuple also took part in the festival.
By Salwa Nakhoul Carmichael
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