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16 October 2014
BBC NI - Eyewitness

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Mrs Sharada Bhat is a community worker with the Indian Community Centre in Belfast Image of Mrs Sharada Bhat

My background is Indian Hindu. I came to Northern Ireland in 1981 but before that we were in England. We were in England nine, no, from 1974 to 81, and then we came to Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland has sometimes been described as quite a closed community. Did you ever find it so?

We can say it is a closed community, but at the same time I can say they are friendly enough too; we can talk to them especially when, with my neighbours, they are very, very helpful and friendly, we never had any problems.

Have you ever been verbally abused or even attacked by strangers because of your ethnic origin?

No, I did not, but my children sometimes when they are in the parks, then by other children, they were called by names and…not abused or nor any serious incidents. I heard some families were disturbed and hurt, abused in some areas which was a bad area first of all and they were given a very hard time and they had to move from that place. That place was called Limestone Road in North Belfast.

Do you find people here still quite ignorant of Indian culture and traditions or are they becoming more aware of multi-cultural issues?

Yes they are, not really ignorant, but they are more interested nowadays to know about Indian culture. I do a lot of cultural awareness talks to the women's groups, schools and youth clubs. They are interested to know, I know they are. They don't know before, so we can say they were ignorant, what do they want to know.

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