Foróige youth club welcomes Syrian refugees to Ireland

 

When Diarmaid Geever first heard that 200 Syrians would be arriving in Ballaghaderreen, like many other people in the community he was surprised that his small town in the West of Ireland had been chosen as their new temporary home.

 “However after thinking about it and discussing it we decided we would like to help welcome the Syrians”.

With several teenagers amongst the first group of 80 Syrians arriving in Ballaghaderreen in March, the local youth group, Foróige, decided to create a welcome poster with information about them and a message of welcome.  They wrote an invitation to the Syrian teenagers to spend an evening with the group, and created a folder of individual welcome messages which were all then translated into Arabic. Finally, they put together some welcome packs, which included Cadbury’s chocolate, Irish rugby hats, and handmade friendship bracelets all included.

“The Syrians were delighted” says Theresa Geever, the Club Leader, with their new neighbours immediately accepting the invitation.

“They’re just regular teens, they are the same as us except they have been forced to leave their homes and country.”

“Everyone was a little apprehensive at first but name tags had been made before hand for everyone which really helped the introductions.  Once names were pronounced, smiles followed and the ice was broken”. 

For the first gathering, the Foróige members made scones and cakes, and tried to come up with activities where the language barrier wouldn’t be an issue.  They did some made clay modeling, and played games such as connect four, and availed of the pool table in the centre.

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The group were the recent winners of the overall Aldi Foróige Citizenship Award 2017, and had the opportunity to travel to Áras an Uachtaráin this week, where President Michael D. Higgins thanked the Foróige volunteers for their warmth and creativity in making the Syrian refugees feel at home.

However, for the volunteers, says Diarmaid, the motivation to respond was simple. 

“They’re just regular teens, they are the same as us except they have been forced to leave their homes and country.”