PeopleNew to the Parish

‘I love this place, I have my children here, there is nothing else I’m looking for in another country’

Irish citizen Miracle Idongesit Ojo, originally from Nigeria, moved from Hungary to Ireland in 2016

Miracle Idongesit Ojo is a nurse working in the stroke unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park. She’s came to Ireland in 2016 and got citizenship this year. Photograph: Alan Betson

Miracle Idongesit Ojo moved from Hungary to Ireland in 2016. She had left Nigeria in 2011 to study nursing in Budapest, where she stayed for five years.

Her first experience of Ireland was a happy one, as she was able to understand everyone straight away because there was no language barrier. She had struggled with communication in Hungary as she does not speak Hungarian.

She moved here to work in a nursing home in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, having been recruited from Budapest.

“They came, picked me up at the airport and from there, they were so friendly to me, like the Irish people, they are so lovely. Someone you don’t even know; you can approach them like maybe asking for directions.”

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“They are very, very good in that they help like, ‘okay I’ll tell you, you have to go this way’, they will let you know the way to go, and you need to know where you’re going before they can leave,” Ojo says.

From the first day she landed in Ireland, she says, Ireland felt like a home: “I feel like this place is my place.”

After working in the nursing home for a few years, Ojo got a job in the stroke unit of St Mary’s Hospital. She was pregnant when she applied for the job.

“They asked me when I want to start, so I told them, okay, I’m pregnant and I’m on my maternity leave, and I was thinking that they’d say they won’t employ me because we want somebody that needs to start right now,” she says.

“But they said no, after your maternity leave, take your time after your maternity leave you can call us back and then we start from there. I was happy about that, truly, they were very, very nice.”

When Ojo started the job, working in stroke rehabilitation, she says everything went well. Photograph: Alan Betson

When Ojo started the job, working in stroke rehabilitation, she says everything went well.

“The Irish people there, although it is kind of multinational so the people, they are very nice. They are nice to me, and nice to all of us. We work as a team. We work, actually, as a family there, we care for the patients and the patients are always happy,” she says.

Ojo feels that the supports Ireland has in place for stroke patients, and elderly people in general, are good.

“If you can’t take care of yourself, there’s somebody there, say, another availability, there is long-term care, nursing home, and then home care too, so it’s a good thing in Ireland.”

However, the mother of two acknowledges that not everything in the Irish health service is perfect.

“The other part, where it is not good is where you have to wait for a long time for hospital appointments here. I know that we can’t get it all, even as human beings, we are not all perfect,” she says.

Overall, though, she feels like the “Irish Government are very good, they take care of their own and they listen to their people”.

I came to Ireland single, I got married here, I had my children here, I got my house here, I’m established in this place

“That is one important thing like they’re listening to their people, it’s good for the Government to listen to the people, to what they want, and I give kudos to the Irish Government.”

Ojo jokes that she did “everything in Ireland”.

“I came to Ireland single, I got married here, I had my children here, I got my house here, I’m established in this place. This place is not even like a home for me, it is a home for me. Although I am Nigerian, and I know that the Nigerian blood can’t be taken away from me, I am happy and proud to become an Irish citizen”.

Her husband, who she met in Hungary, came to Ireland because of her, Ojo said, transferring from his Hungarian workplace to an Irish branch when she decided to move, although he too originally hails from Nigeria.

During her pregnancies, Ojo was surprised that antenatal care was free, and that when her daughter was hospitalised for three weeks with pneumonia at the beginning of the year, there were no hospital bills attached.

“I was scared, like how am I going to pay the hospital bills? So I requested to see a social worker so I can ask,” but the social worker told her she did not have to worry about it, as “the Government have already taken care of it”.

Another thing that surprised Ojo about Ireland is the housing crisis, and the difficulty she experienced in finding creche places after she had her son and daughter in 2019 and 2021.

Ojo came to Ireland with an open mind. She says that she was just happy she could understand people, and that people could understand her too. Photograph: Alan Betson

“When I had my son, it was very hard to find a creche. Someone was advising me to apply one year ahead of time, even during my pregnancy I have to apply, because it’s very scarce,” she says.

But overall, Ojo came to Ireland with an open mind. She says that she was just happy she could understand people, and that people could understand her too.

However, she says: “I love this place, and I have my home, I have my children here, there is nothing else I’m looking for in another country, because you can’t have it all.”

Ojo lives in Dunshaughlin, Co Meath with her family, “in a quiet area and a lovely neighbourhood”.

Her sister lives in Britain.When Ojo spoke to The Irish Times, she was preparing to go back to visit her family in Nigeria for the first time in eight years, with her husband and two children to celebrate her father’s 70th birthday.

We would like to hear from people who have moved to Ireland in the past 10 years. To get involved, email newtotheparish@irishtimes.com or tweet @newtotheparish