Mehwish Saqib is 30 years old and is studying for a BA in Early Childhood Education in DCU. She is in her third year. Mehwish and her family have spent a year in Ballyhaunis Direct Provision Centre and are have been in Mosney Direct Provision Centre for almost 3 and half years. Below are the result of an email conversation between myself and Mehwish.
We are highlighting the injustice of Direct Provision in Ireland and ultimately, we want an end to Direct Provision as it is a cruel and unusual practice to subject any human beings to. Until this is realised we are calling on TU Dublin to put in place supports for students living in Direct Provision immediately. You can sign our petition at the end of this article.
Can you give some background information on how you came to Ireland
I am from Pakistan. I faced life-threatening personal issues and I was not safe there. I left my country in March 2011.
What is an average day like for you?
I have three children and I am also a full time student, so every day is very busy. I wake up early to get my children ready, breakfast and lunch boxes need to be done and then have to catch a bus from the Centre to college, which is about a 20 minute walk. After I finish my college working day, I come back home and cook clean and all that normal things which every mother does.
When I have a day off, I need to do laundry. There is no washing machine in the house so so we need to go to the Centres Laundry on every half an hour to put clothes into the washing machine, we are alloted 4 hours a day.
What is your living situation like? What spaces do you share with your family/ other people?
In the Mosney Accommodation centre there is much more space compared to Ballyhaunis. In Ballyhaunis DP we had two rooms for myself and my three children. There were four other families living in the same house, so we had to share a kitchen and other facilities, so there was absolutely no privacy. In Mosney we have a three bedroom house so it is a much better experience.
What do you think should be made to improve the experience of asylum seekers in Ireland?
Our centre is very far from the community. It seems like we are living in another world. Asylum seekers should be allowed to integrate into the community. The time periods of asylum application should be shorter and all asylum seekers should allow for work. The management should consider that we are human beings and have already suffered a lot. Their behaviour has a real impact on our well being.
How has living in Direct Provision affected you?
DP affected me and my family in different ways. Firstly this environment badly affects children. My children ask me why we are living in Mosney and why are we not able to move house where their school is and friends live. My daughter asked ‘Mama I am sick of Mosney, we are poor because poor people live in Mosney’.
As a mother I see everyday my children suffering and this makes me feel guilty and stressed that my husband and I cannot do anything for our children. They want to enjoy a normal life. My husband is not allowed to work and is in the Centre all day with nothing to do and this has made him depressed. I am lucky that I am studying and spending time in the outside world.
We sleep on a poor quality mattress which springs hurt our backs and our children often complain that it is uncomfortable. But we can’t buy mattresses and we have complained so many times Management, but they’ll just give us a new mattress of the same poor quality. It is very stressful having to ask Management for things we need all the time, because it feels like we have to go to them and beg again and again. There are many things which seem like very small issues, but we are already under a lot of pressure and dealing with depression and these things make our life very painful and stressful.
What is the worst thing about living in Direct Provision?
In Direct Provision our self-respect is destroyed. We need to ask Management for every single thing they totally ignore us. For example last week I went to management three times because my hot water tap is broken and I explained to them that I was washing dishes with cold water but they don’t seem bothered. We feel like we are living in prison where we can’t do anything with our own will. Our children’s well being is affected, this is not a healthy environment for them. We as parents feel guilty that we are not in a position to provide a good life for our children.
What do you think people should know about the Direct Provision system?
Many people outside have asked me about what the Asylum System and Direct Provision Centres are like, they don’t even have awareness about the system.In recent times more people are aware and support asylum seekers in any way they can.
Do you enjoy going to University? What are you currently studying?
When people ask me what is the best thing about Direct Provision I say my my son was born there and secondly I got a Scholarship to go to DCU. Going to university is one of the best achievements of my life. Although I am going through a lot of stress and difficult time at the moment because of me and my family deportation orders. This situation affect my ability to study. I love going to college and my placement. I am studying for a BA in Early Childhood Education and I am in my third year.
What are you hoping to do in the future?
I want to make me and my family’s life better and to work hard for them. I also believe that I have a responsibility to make a contribution in Irish society. Hopefully I will complete my studies and build my career as a primary school teacher or an early years educator. At the moment the deportation order is a barrier for my future success. But still I am working hard to achieve my goals.
What can I do to Help?
- SIGN THE PETITION: We want Direct Provision to end as we believe it has no place in a humane and civilised society. In the meantime Sign our Petition asking TU Dublin to put in place support that can make a difference in the lives of members of our community that are living in Direct Provision.
- EMAIL THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE & EQUALITY: firstname.lastname@example.org – voice your concerns, let him know what you think of Direct Provision.
- DONATE: Support asylum seekers – visit MASI.ie