Lives in Limbo – the children: ‘I can’t tell my friends where I live’
Laiq and his wife Amtul with their sons Waleed (15) Nabeed (11) and Sarmad (4). The family lives and sleeps in one room in the Eglinton direct provision centre in Salthill. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Waleed (14) has spent most of his life growing up in a hotel room with his parents and younger brothers.
In the room, his mother and father sleep on a mattress on the floor.
He and his two younger brothers sleep on beds surrounding them. That’s how they have lived for almost eight years.
“I did my Junior Certificate [this year],” he says. “It was really hard for me because I wasn’t able to study properly – because my brothers are fighting and disturbing me all the time.
“I feel I can’t tell my friends where I live. Even if they come over, they’re not allowed to come to my room. I’ve nowhere to play.”
His father Laiq also finds it difficult. The stress and uncertainty have taken a heavy mental toll, he says, but there’s a physical one too.
Laiq has a range of health problems. But prescription charges, for example, mount up when all you have is €19.50 a week. So he ends up cutting corners on looking after his health.
“It’s mentally damaging and physically damaging,” he says. “I have cataracts. I have depression. I have diabetes. I have blood pressure . . . It’s hard to keep going.”