Continuing the work of collaboration with JRS, which we have been doing for more than a year, visiting and accompanying refugees in two of the main centers on the outskirts of Dublin, our specific presence has also had to adapt itself to this time of insecurity and lockdown.

In these centers, the number of persons per room, depending on the size of the room, was between 3 and 7 persons. In spite of always keeping in mind the desire to assign their small spaces according to their affinities, it has not always been possible. By country, by region, by religion, by… Above all, they try to keep families together and assign each a room just for the family, but at times the spaces are really small. A mother alone with her children, on occasion shares the room with another mother with children.

So the first problem to resolve because of Covid-19 has been the density of the population of the reception center and of the centers for direct service. It was imperative to reduce the number of persons per room. The government contracted with Hotels that were empty of tourists – also due to the virus — and in the space of three or four days many people were relocated. The maximum permitted became 3 persons per room in spaces where formerly 6 or 7 people were living. It was a huge task.

Throughout this process we have been present by telephone, trying to calm all those who called us, assuring them that this measure was temporary and that they would again return to their original places when these were again secure.

This is our work, and the way that we are now present in the centers. Keeping in contact, calling to see if there is any way in which we can help them, and if so, to act upon it, accepting their calls with their doubts, their worries, with their need for information about the effects that this could have on their still pending legal processes, with their fears of being repatriated as their term is running out…

There is a common need, the need to experience hope while waiting for everything to return to normal. I believe that that is the priority work that we are doing and having to face: to help one another to remain in hope that will strengthen us to be a support for others.

Irene Guia, aci

“Hope is not optimism. Optimism is the expectation that things will get better; hope is a virtue based on suffering. It is a Grace that gives strength. Hope is a promise rooted in the heart and a guide toward an unknown future.” Mark Roper, SJ (former international director JRS)