28 Mar 2024

World renowned professional artist and amateur musician Alina Gawhary was the special guest at a good relations event organised by Choice Housing and partners to mark International Women’s Day.

At ‘Cultures unveiled – inspiring inclusion’, Alina shared her experience of securing safe passage from Afghanistan to Bangladesh where, in 2023, she was awarded an art scholarship at a university.

A collaboration between Choice Housing and First Steps Women’s centre in Dungannon, the event was supported by the Department for Communities (DfC) and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.  £1.9M has been invested in the Fortview, Dungannon, shared housing development and associated five-year Good Relations Plan. The Deputy Chair of Mid Ulster Council, Councillor Meta Graham and Choice tenants were among those who attended.

In her talk, Alina explained how she choose musical instruments as the subjects of her paintings to mark her time in Afghanistan when she was unable to play music due to the ongoing safety situation in her home country. It also refers to the support she received from music composer, Sadie Harrison.


Carol Ervine – Group Director of Tenant and Client Services at Choice – said: “Alina’s story is inspiring, and we are pleased to have been part of this event, giving a platform to hear not just about her experiences but how she has used art and music to communicate her experience and highlighting key issues impacting women in countries where the place of females is less valued. 


“This event is just one example of the many good relations initiatives Choice are involved in across  Northern Ireland aimed at developing and sustaining healthy shared communities,” added Carol.


The Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Programme is a shared housing initiative that aims to develop and sustain healthy local communities that are welcoming, diverse, and inclusive. Choice plays a key role in the delivery of the ‘Housing for All’ Programme, creating communities through diversity and inclusivity with seven shared housing schemes across Northern Ireland, including their shared scheme in Dungannon where an Advisory Group made up of local community, statutory and elected representatives help to shape development and delivery of a 5 year good relations plan for the area.