Vusi Thabethe, CEO of community group Shining Light Galway, will walk from Galway to Dublin, setting off this Friday (6th August), to protest the appalling conditions suffered by people living in Direct Provision in Ireland.
He will first visit the Eglinton Hotel Direct Provision Centre in Salthill at 9.00 am with a delivery of cleaning products, toiletries and toilet paper for the residents before travelling to Oranmore to begin his walk. He will pass through Ballinasloe, and use the newly opened section of the Dublin-Galway Greenway from Athlone to Maynooth. He aims to arrive in Dublin on Monday (9th August).
Born in Soweto, South Africa, Mr Thabete moved to Galway 15 years ago. He hasn’t come through the Direct Provision system himself, but saw the plight of many in his community who have and was moved to help. He co-founded Shining Light Galway community group with friends during the first lockdown of the Covid pandemic in 2020. The group provides free food, furniture, clothing, basic level maths and English classes and general assistance to people in Galway’s Direct Provision centres and anyone in Galway’s vulnerable minority migrant communities that needs help.
Innocent Ogah, a current resident of one of Galway’s Direct Provision centres, fled Nigeria with his wife and children when their lives were threatened. Mr Ogah said “I have told my story to the media many times, but nothing has changed. I want to encourage others living in Direct Provision to speak up and tell their stories until we’re finally heard.”
Mr Thabethe feels that the help Shining Light Galway can offer unfortunately only treats the symptoms and not the problem, and something needs to be done at government level. “Last week I could not sleep thinking about all those people living in Direct Provision, given just 36 Euro a week to live on. I thought about those living with children in one room with one bathroom. 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.
Ireland has come a long way regarding representation. We have a black Irish athlete born in Ireland to Nigerian parents representing us in the Olympics, which is fantastic, but we also have how many potential Olympic athletes, qualified nurses and doctors, scientists and politicians sitting in rooms in Direct Provision centres all over the country, unable to work, fulfil their full potential, provide for their families and contribute to their new home?
Shining Light Galway is already supporting the residents but change isn’t happening. So what else can I do?
I need to speak truth to power in a way that can’t be ignored, that’s why I’ve decided to walk to Dublin, to bring this message to the media, the public, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Oireachtas.”
Mr Thabethe hopes to raise public awareness to put pressure on the politicians with the power to ultimately end Direct Provision as we know it and replace it with a system that is fit for purpose, allowing those living in it the dignity they deserve.
“People in Direct Provision have had to rely on the good people of Ireland for help, and so will I on this walk. Any offers of accommodation, food, company and moral support are welcome, as are donations to our GoFundMe fundraiser (https://gofund.me/7cc50779) which will go towards Shining Light Galway’s work with people in Direct Provision.”
Claire McGuinness, Marketing and Communications Manager, Shining Light Galway
Phone: 087 989 1900. Email: email@example.com
Vusi Thabethe, CEO, Shining Light Galway
Phone: 087 105 6434. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shining Light Galway Background Information
Founded in 2020, Shining Light Galway is a group of committed local residents who have come together to provide voluntary assistance to minority groups affected by poverty, particularly people living in Direct Provision. We are tackling issues through direct actions such as the delivery of food rescued from waste (in conjunction with Food Cloud), redistribution of unwanted furniture items, free books for children, support with mental health needs and any other type of advice or assistance we can provide to marginalised people.