Shining Light Galway's Vusi Thabethe is walking from Galway to Dublin to protest the appalling conditions suffered by people living in Direct Provision in Ireland.
He will leave Oranmore in Galway early on Friday morning (6 August), passing through Ballinasloe, and using the newly opened section of the Dublin-Galway Greenway from Athlone to Maynooth. He aims to arrive in Dublin on Monday (9 August).
Vusi will be joined for part of his journey by Innocent Ogah, a current resident of one of Galway’s Direct Provision centres, who had to flee Nigeria with his wife and children after their lives were threatened. Innocent says: "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.”
Vusi (left) and Innocent stand outside one of Galway's Direct Provision centres.
Vusi, who is originally from South Africa, hasn’t come through the Direct Provision system, 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. We are an entirely volunteer-run organisation providing free food, furniture, clothing, basic level maths and English classes and general assistance to people in Galway’s DP centres and anyone in Galway’s vulnerable minority migrant communities that needs help.
Vusi feels that this is just plugging a hole in a dam, and something needs to be done at government level to solve the problem. “Just 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 all those who have 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.
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 Irish public, to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and to the Oireachtas.
Any offers of accommodation, food, company and moral support are welcome, as are donations to this fundraiser which will go towards Shining Light Galway's work with people in Direct Provision."
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