I first heard about ADPI’s campaigns on Instagram last year. At first, I wasn’t sure what I could do to help, not living near a Direct Provision centre and being stuck in quarantine. I did have internet though, so I decided to join the “friendship project”, in which volunteers made online friends with people in Direct Provision. We exchanged WhatsApp numbers and were paired up. The woman I was paired with is extremely kind, and we got along very well. She told me about her hopes and dreams, and I told her about mine. We still text often over WhatsApp and seeing her name on my screen always brightens my day. She is a fantastic friend and, for me, it was an eye-opening experience to hear her struggles and her story.
I loved the Zoom Irish classes, which both volunteers and people in Direct Provision attended. We all definitely learnt something! Irish is a beautiful language and it warmed my heart to see that the passion that both old-Irish and new-Irish people had for it! At the start of each session, we learnt some facts about Ireland and its history and at the end of each session, we would listen to Irish music. We even had live musicians playing (well as live as they can be over Zoom)! The Irish lessons gave me something to look forward to every week during lockdown.
It was great to meet friends from so many diverse backgrounds, but it was shocking and heartbreaking to hear of some of the horrible conditions they had to live in. Ireland claims to be “the land of a thousand welcomes”, yet puts asylum seekers through so much suffering and trauma in order to line businessmen’s pockets. Direct Provision is a disgrace to our country, but the people living there are some of the greatest people I have ever met and I wish them all the happiness in life. I hope to continue volunteering with ADPI until this system is abolished and the people within it are protected.