Young people in direct provision voice hope for ‘life without struggle’

Group of young people living in direct provision publish book on their experiences

Participants in The Icons of Mosney book including  Precious Shamiso Matumba (centre), with Youth Work Ireland Meath regional director Geraldine Hogarty. Photograph: Seamus Farrelly

Participants in The Icons of Mosney book including Precious Shamiso Matumba (centre), with Youth Work Ireland Meath regional director Geraldine Hogarty. Photograph: Seamus Farrelly

 

“My happiness does not come from money and fame. My happiness comes from seeing life without struggle.” So reads one of the poignant messages from a group of young people living in direct provision who have published a book on their experiences.

The 17 young people living at the Mosney centre near Drogheda, Co Meath, devised The Icons of Mosney to celebrate how integration can take place with proper emphasis on training and supports.

The participants are aged between 14 and 35 and hail from nine countries.

Through the book, they demonstrate skills such as photography, communications and stage production learned during the project, as well a flair which some already had for fashion, graphic design, dancing and music.

The work was a culmination of six months’ work between the Mosney Direct Provision Centre and Youth Work Ireland Meath and is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality community integration fund.

“This project is about celebrating the abilities and talents of the young people and, through photography, about the new skills that they learned,” said Nicky McDonnell of Youth Work Ireland Meath.

It sought to integrate participants with other services “showing them the various projects and groups that they can be part of”.

“What the project found was that despite differences in their backgrounds, integration can still happen and be embraced. It was hard to get some of these people in pictures as their own self-esteem is so low that they didn’t think they were worthy of being photographed.

“We chose Trim Castle as the location as we felt it encompassed the new Ireland with the old Ireland.”

Participants have origins in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, Liberia, Zambia, Libya, Sudan, Egypt and Malawi.

Messages of support

Many of the contributors have messages of support for fellow asylum seekers and refugees, among them Precious Shamiso Matumba, who says: “My struggles have sharpened me into this rare gem of a woman I am. I rise! I am right where I’m supposed to be and if there is anything I have discovered about myself in my journey, it is that I matter and self-love is the beginning of all healing.”

Mary Adjayi writes: “There’s nothing so beautiful than a smile that has struggled through tears.” While Esther Tyam says: “I feel like God has given me a second chance to live my life. I feel like an African Queen.”

Fatima Contreiras says: “I’m just a young girl but I had to leave my country to change the course of my life.”

She adds: “Understand that you are not more or less than anyone by being where you are or by having or not having something.”