On a damp January evening this year (Thursday 20th, to be precise), the [MultiLingual City] Forum celebrated a warm and lively ‘Chilean Evening’ at the Salvation Army premises on Psalter Lane, Nether Edge. The large meeting room was filled with about 70 Forum members and members of the South Yorkshire ‘Chile Sports Culture and Development Association’ and ‘Grupo Andes’.

The Chileans put on a grand evening of food, folk music and displays and the Forum was proud and pleased to host the occasion. Pedro Fuentes, chair of Chile SCDA, told us the history of the Chilean community in South Yorkshire, and how ita had arrived here as refugees from the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile from the 1970s until the 90s. Around the walls were maps and pictures of Chile, and photos of community members and their families and customs. Outstanding were a number of ‘arpilleras’ (tapestries), woven by the women members of the community.

‘Arpilleras’ are a brightly coloured Chilean folk art-form which are used to tell stories; some of the arpilleras on display showed scenes from the Pinochet years and the exile that many had to undertake. Another member of the group read some fine poems from great Chilean poets, such as Pablo Neruda. And a group of community members, led by Irma Vergara provided us with typical Chilean food, including delicious ‘empanadas’.
Many thanks to the Chilean community members for a really good evening. ¡Muchísimas gracias!

From MultiLingual City Forum  Newsletter No.4 Summer 2005