“For me, it just seemed to be a welcoming and supportive thing to do. And in Syria, it’s a terrible situation. The eight of us met and looked at the pros and cons. But really it was a no-brainer in the end, we could see that we could overcome the challenges.”
It was far easier to become a community sponsorship group then we had anticipated. The most difficult thing was the accommodation but we overcame that.
The fundraising was easy, it was fun actually. With the documentation, we just had to be organised. We got support from other community sponsorship groups, and we are happy to give support to others! One of the things we recognise very much is that every family is different.
We have pre-conceived ideas about Syrian refugees. There is a huge amount of diversity. Syria was a beautiful country, very well developed.
Myself and Joe, the group secretary, we took off with a van and a driver to meet them at the airport when they arrived. We met them with flowers, they were delighted to be in Ireland. Not that they knew much about Ireland beforehand! The group had the house decorated to welcome them. It was lovely.
“We got support from other community sponsorship groups, and we are happy to give support to others!”
In the first few days, they had a loud knock on the door. A big man was standing there with a giant bar of Toblerone. He shoved it into their hands and said, “you are very welcome here” and ran off!
They are here on trust. They are hoping that they will finally be safe. It took three to four months in Ireland before they believed that they were.
“I feel delighted for them. I appreciate that this is just the first step of their journey.”