Direct action for people in Direct Provision

Blog post by Vusi Thabethe, CEO of Shining Light Galway

Just last week I could not sleep thinking about all those people living in Direct Provision. I thought about how each day they sit in a one bedroom with one toilet and a small kitchen area. I thought about how difficult it must be to look at their children and think of the future. How could they? Some of these people have been forced to stay in that place for 3,4,5,6,7 even 8 years.

How could they think of the future? How could they still have hope? Surely this is not right. Surely someday it will change. Surely someone needs to do something about this. Perhaps someone will be a voice for these people. Help is coming!

Photo of Vusi Thabethe of Shining Light Galway standing outside Eglinton Hotel, Salthill, one of Galway's Direct Provision centres. Photo by Claire McGuinness, © Shining Light Galway, 2021
Vusi stands outside one of Galway’s Direct Provision centres. Photo by Claire McGuinness ©Shining Light Galway, 2021

I thought this would be the end of it and I’d just fall back to sleep but my conscience wouldn’t let me. I thought about the women who have to share a room with three others, how difficult it must be to have to constantly walk on eggshells. How there is absolutely no moment of privacy, a moment of peace, a moment of rest. How can they share one bathroom? How can one use the toilet without having to wake everyone up? The answer is “it’s impossible “ .

I thought about all those who have children in one room with one bathroom. How could the other kids sleep when there is a toddler in the room? The same kids will have to be up to go to school the next day. How does a single mother continue to live in this sort of environment day after day? Not only does she have to think about the kids, she is constantly worried about her visa application. Surely she’ll get her status, besides she’s only been living in Eglinton Hotel for 8 years!!!

I think about the man who I have befriended who lives in there with his family. When I say family I mean his wife and four children. All in one room. How can a proud man explain to his wife that he brought them here with a promise of building a better future. Surely I’ve seen this story somewhere. Surely not, is history repeating itself?

I think about the two kids who are always first to collect donations from us. How can they afford to smile? Do they wonder about a different life? Do they have an idea of how other kids their age live on “the other side“?

Who am I trying to convince? Help isn’t coming. Help isn’t on its way. Nobody is willing to stand up for these people.

What can I do? Well Shining Light is already supporting the residents but change isn’t happening. So what else can I do? What else can I do? I’m already involved. Vusi, you are in too deep to walk away from this; not that I would anyway, knowing myself.

Vusi what will you do about it??? I will not sleep thinking about this!

Come on Vusi, find a quick answer and go to bed. But hold on this is a complex situation clearly it deserves a complex decision. What if I’m over thinking it? Come on Vusi, simplify it.

You know just go for a walk in the morning to try to tire yourself out. Walk…walk…

Walk to Dublin, with 36 Euro. That’s how much these people get weekly from the EU. Yes this is it. I will walk to Dublin!!! Now let me go to bed!