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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Mzuri Watts

Mzuri Dance ArtisTree receives Yarra Community Award "Contributing to Diversity and Inclusion" 2022

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Mzuri Dance ArtisTree are proud to have received the “Contributing to Diversity and Inclusion Award” presented by @cityofyarra on November 16th 2022. Mzuri Dance ArtisTree mission is to create opportunity for:

Belonging and Contribution Music Dance and Story-Telling Cultural Empowerment This award recognises Mzuri Dance ArtisTree’s role in providing the after school dance and life skills education program in Fitzroy spanning 18 years as well as emergency food relief to the community in 2020 and 2021 during pandemic lockdowns.

This award recognises the incredible contribution of so many people. Please read about our inspiring community and our partners below. Everyone has a right to participate in all aspects of life on an equal footing – however for many people due to the way we look, the places we live, the current social structure can create barriers to participation, limiting opportunities, access to education and employment pathways.

It is time to dismantle the colonial systems. We need to call out and stamp out the racism, casual racism, discrimination, racial profiling, micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions for people of colour. Mzuri Dance Artistree plays a vital role in working towards creating a world where everyone can believe in their dreams and live their dreams.

We proudly accept this award on behalf of the whole Mzuri team and community –

Suzie Watts, Ayel Malong, Mpaphi Nfandizo, Apuot Bol, Aricia Kostouros, Batsi Mongoma, Alaa Al Ahmad, Ali Limb and late parents of Suzie Pauline Watts (late) and Chris Watts (late) who gave 100% of their wisdom, love and support. Special recognition goes to the Mzuri Young Leaders Akuech Lueth, Teresa Bol, Korpo Sao, Mary Bol and Celine Arop, Junior Leader Kuei, Hendrix and Kingston and all the Mzuri dance students, their parents, fund committee, students, teachers, mentors, parents, Susana Dau, Josephine Akec, Yaya Kullie, Mary Ojwet, Abiol Manyang Madut, Asunta Awien Deng, Lola Aluel Arop Lueth and Lucy Lueth and Atherton Gardens community, our extended family and friends.

Thanks to the community workers, alumni, artists and monthly donor Camille Denise of Dynamic Body Therapy, lots of love and gratitude to them all for their amazing time, contribution, spirit and support – see below for names.

Thanks to City of Yarra and all the wonderful partnering organisations and stakeholders (funders list further down)

Thanks to Nurturing African Leaders, Mairead Scanlon, Dan Morrison and VOAV Voices of Africa Victoria team Ayel Malong, Apuot Bol, Suzie Watts,The WHEI team Trang Du, Hoa Tran, Sally Anthony and Suzie Watts, Ary Lyimo and ACFA, Cristina Del Frate, Olivia Allen and Yarra Venues Team, Yarra Libraries Well Being, Rupert North and Yarra Youth Services, Achut Thuc, Nuraini Mahumud, Maryan Mohamed and Susanna Peries of North Richmond Community Health and Sue Kent, Allison Andrews and Karen Hovenga and Fatuma Muhudin at Banh House, Sarah Cather of Festival of Women, Moon Lantern Festival, Lennox St Market and Chris Newlands, Julie Jacobs, and Ian Doherty of DFFH. Shout outs go to Mzuri and Afrovival artists Gabriel Simbine, Jay Pretina Linda, James Brown, Sydney Langa, Raymond Bicotier, Patrick Daniels, and community workers Suad Mohamed, Zalika Alie, Aisha Darawish and Shadya HajiSaleh who are also supporting the delivery of Mzuri Dance community projects.

Community Food Program: A huge part of our acknowledgement for this award went to the work we did over lockdowns when food insecurity was becoming a serious local issue. Thanks firstly to Ayel Malong who was the founder of the Community Food Program at Mzuri Dance ArtisTree and worked tirelessly over lockdowns. Thank you to Ali Limb for her incredible donation of time, skill and hard work to the coordination of the program, and our beautiful family Mpaphi Nfandizo and Hendrix and Kingston for their incredible time and help, and putting up with the long hours.

And yes, they say it takes a village. Thank you to all the amazing Mzuri Community Food Program volunteers for their support and generosity. Cue drum rum roll..

Anita Baker

Mary Halou

Susanna Williams

Korlu Zarwue

Achol Margok

Beth Anon

Rebecca Willow Hutton

Emma Byrnes

Chris Dufflied

Ricky Sproule


Thank you to: Inner North Community Foundation C-19 disaster relief fund, and the Limb Family Foundation for providing financial support in 2021 which allowed Mzuri Dance Artistree Fund Inc. to continue the Covid-19 food relief program until the end of lock down 2021.


Thank you to the Olivia Allen and Yarra Arts, Vic Health Re-imagining Health Grant, Engage North Richmond Grant through DFFH for the opportunity to stay connected and maintain social and creative engagement with the communities throughout 2021 as it allowed Mzuri Dance Artistree to know people needed help.

Redirected grants:

Thank you to ACFA (African Communities Foundation Australia), Fairness Fund (Australian Communities Foundation sub fund) CMY (Centre of Multicultural Youth) for allowing grants to be redirected for this urgent purpose under the challenging circumstances of the pandemic.

Resources and Building Capacity:

Thank you to Dylan Oosterweghel and Yarra Libraries Well Being Program ( which included administration support for 3 months) , a self-directed volunteer team from Food without Borders and exiting volunteer members of Lentil as Anything which was winding up, AAFRA Management Team and generous local businesses such as Gram Sustainable and Terra Madre, supporting this initiative by supplying a combination of dry food, fresh food, cooked meals, essential sanitary items and supermarket vouchers and in 2022 IGA St Georges Rd Northcote.

In Kind Support: Thank you to North Richmond Community Health, DFFH, Agile Financial Services, Taios Productions, Aricia Kostouros, Neysa Charlton CMY, Cultivating Community, Yarra Youth Services, Sacred Heart Primary School and Banh House for providing valuable in-kind support through advice, resources and/ or services. Recent Partners: Thanks to other recent partnering organisations - AMCF (African Music and Culture Festival) Priya Namana and RAV (Regional Arts Victoria), Abbotsford Convent, Sacred Heart Primary School, Fitzroy, Abbotsford Primary school and Trinity Primary School, Richmond, and St Alban Heights Primary School, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Mesob for your wonderful support and partnership over the last few years, and MAV (Multicultural Arts Victoria) for creating opportunities for Afrovival and Mzuri Dance over the years. Mentors: A huge huge thank you to mentors Dominique Marcelle Azoulay, Rashid Yunus, Freya Dos Santos, Julie and Stuart Spencer, Chris Headland, Ana Soares, Alaa Al Ahmad, Ary Lyimo, Caitlin Graham Jones, Prosper Sebafundi, Jill Morgan, Valanga Khoza, King Bell, Martyn Newman, Judy Purse, So Kalmery, Lizz Moore, Randy Borquaye (RIP Randy we love you), and Dr Charles Osir Ogada (Lest we forget, late) Dave Marama, Joe Malatji, Bob Sedergreen and Anne Nelson for believing in Suzie Watts and Mzuri Dance and for their time, expertise, guidance and support, Community Mzuri Dance ArtisTree wishes to also acknowledge the community who have supported and been part of Mzuri over the years...

Shout outs and lots of love to Mzuri dancers and supporters Melinda Watts, Angela Barra and the Barra family, Cindia Luz, Vicki Pejic, (EGISS), Aliki Zouiou, Lizz Moore, Nancy Nunez, Emily McClean, Georgie McClean, Freya Bennett Overstall, Ana Soares, Shonah Honey Hill ( lest we forget, late, we love you Shonah) Jessy Turner, Caitlin Griffiths, Susannah Breaden, Anna Olijnyk, Sally Coldham, Tariro Manatsa, Sophie Kerr, Camille Denise and new volunteers for the fund - Gianna Lucia and Louise Fricke. A loving thank you to our extended family Melinda and Sandro, Abbie and Bella, Gertude Nfandizo, KB and Luchani, Bushy and Caroline, Chipo Charity, and all our family in Sebina, Botswana we love you as we do the Headland clan and Watts clan.

Thank you to Andrew Viva Marama and family, Ibrahim Mtumwa and family, Dave and Avega Marama and family for hosting Suzie in Tanzania on her way to and from study at the Bagamoyo College of Arts.

Thank you to past teachers Karen Ermachora, Jacqui Dreessens, Patrice Lamumba, Sue Hayes, Kevin Hayes, Laurel Martyn OBE (late), Baron Matata (late) Sambaleti Mathurin for sharing their time, expertise, guidance and support, and the amazing teachers Mwalimo Elizabeth and Mbata and Hukwe Zawose (late) and Bagamoyo College of Arts Tanzania. Another big thank you to dear friends Aliki Zouliou, Nerida Thornbill, Chris Beltzis, Caitlin Roberts, Chico Dos Santos, Helen Lambert and family, Michelle Campbell, Chris Skinner and family, Cristine Constatino, Angelo Gigliotti, Six and Michelle Mosenki, Steph and Annabella Kabedi, Habib and Jackie Chanzi, Sandra, Mischa, Flora and Theo Carbo, Jenny Farrah, Daniel Jordan, Kate Ellis and Peter Long, Aaron and Jacinta Quick, Lori Corran, Emma Williams, Prince and Sue Fallon who have supported us along the way. Big – ups to Mzuri creatives and collaborators, musicians, artists Ajak Kwai, Dominique Azoulay, Nerida Thornbill, Richie Brain, Mars De Favela, Maka Basilico, Martinse Kanda, Papi Wena and Vox Congo family, MIchael Godise, Barbara Haddy, Karena Bravo, Ivan Katchoyan, Georgie Batt, Andy Rigby, King Bell and Soukous ba Congo Family, Musiki Manjaro family, AMCF with Fred Alale and Amanda Green, Richard Armstrong, George Lily, Osei Owusu Banahene, Terese Virtue, Julian Goyma, Zvi Belling, Passi Jo (late), Pamela Kleeman, Tchico Tchicaya and Waraco Musica, King Marong, Kojo Noah Owusu, Simon Lewis, Simon Fraser, Konrad Henderson, Elf Transporter, Chris Beltzis, Chris Lesser and Stani Goma – time may have passed between events and partnerships but we have so much gratitude in having the opportunity to work together and build the vibrant community Mzuri Dance ArtisTree has become today.

We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

To donate or volunteer for Mzuri Dance ArtisTree not for profit programs go to the contact us page.

Watch Community Food Program Video

Listen to Children's Feedback Video


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