You could hear a pin drop in the library of The Pres when 3C and 4C were regaled with a tale of hardship, resilience and strength on Friday, 21st September.
Shirin Ali from Syria took both CSPE classes on her journey from Syria through Iraq, Greece, Turkey and finally Ireland that was heart breaking to relive and hear.
Our attentive Junior Cert listeners were horrified to hear of the difficulties and danger involved in fleeing war-torn Syria only to gain access to refugee camps in Greece and Turkey which were accessed via mountain paths under the cover of night and on an inflatable boat bobbing precariously in the sea.
Smugglers played a huge part in Shirin and her family of 4 children, her husband, and her extended family being deposited at various borders, which was a costly affair. It was incredible to hear of the varying levels of bribery involved along the way, to gain access to better food rations, getting to the top of relocation lists and in order to be treated to a modicum of respect.
The first camp they arrived at in Greece was a shed sheltering 700 refugees of all ages with one male and one female toilet. Each person had access to a board on the floor and a blanket. Shirin was lucky as they only had to stay there for 7 days before being moved to a tent for 3 months. We were all horrified on hearing of the deprivation and desperation felt by all there, with no idea of what the future would hold.
Shirin spoke of the night they spent in an inflatable boat and the cost involved both financially and emotionally. The only belonging they had was a backpack of food and water supplies. Shirin clutched her 4 month old baby to her, cuddled her other 3 children around her and kept her eyes shut for the journey.
Now, 9 years after they first left Syria and 8 months of a stay in Ballyhadereen Shirin and her children are excited to move into their first home together in the safety of Ireland, a country they have found to be welcoming and full of friends. They are grateful to the Dept. Of Justice for arranging a new home for them which they will move in to over the next few weeks.
We were all astounded by Shirin’s resilience, strength, determination and positivity. Shirin’s future is looking much brighter and has been marked with her passing her driver’s theory test. We wish Shirin and her family every success and good wish for a wonderful new life in Ireland.
3C and 4C were the perfect audience for this talk being both respectful and attentive. They asked Shirin some very pertinent questions and put her at her ease during the talk.
We would like to thank Shirin for taking the time to share her story and also to Bernadette Casey and Anne Phelan for bringing her and her lovely son to and from Ballyhadereen.
Shirin was overwhelmed by the kind donations of school materials given by staff and students from The Pres and also for the lovely hamper they provided for them as they move into their new home. Shirin text to say she was delighted to meet the girls and was so grateful.