***updated list at midnight Wednesday – thank you for the enormous response, these are the kids who aren’t covered yet but we’re nearly there! If I haven’t replied to you apologies, just try me again as I’m fielding a lot of very generous offers***
2 boys under 6 months
1 girl and 1 boy aged 6-12 months
2 boys and 1 girl aged 1 year
2 girls aged 2 years
1 girl aged 3 years
1 girl aged 4 years
1 girl aged 6
1 girl aged 8
1 boy aged 9
3 boys aged 11
1 girl aged 12
Teenagers, 7 boys 5 girls
Eleven weeks after our little boy joined us, I’m finally able to sit down and write again, prompted by an article I read in the Irish Times last week. After an emotional year – as well as Ferdia’s birth, we’ve moved house, watched my mother go through hellish cancer treatment, and lost my lovely granny – I am probably more susceptible than usual to a sob story, but this one punched me in the gut.
As I write I look at my son, who has been so lucky to be born in a peaceful, wealthy country, surrounded by loving family and friends. So lucky that my parents have had to put a room aside in their house (where all five of us – including our four legged friends, Vimes and Cheery – are currently camping out!) for the presents people have given him – he’ll be well dressed for a long time to come. He has everything he could wish for.
It couldn’t contrast more starkly with Kitty Holland’s interview with asylum seekers at Knockalisheen in Limerick, who get their Christmas bonus this week. Just over €16 for an adult. €13 for a child. And that’s Christmas. Christmas food, Christmas clothes, Christmas presents all have to come out of that. There is no hot lunch at the centre on Christmas Day.
The yoga centre I attend had the wonderful idea of a Giving Tree for kids in Cork’s Kinsale Road centre. Our gift went to a little boy the same age as Ferdia. For the kids in Knockalisheen, there is no Giving Tree happening that I know of, but after a number of people on my Facebook page kindly offered to help, I contacted Doras Luimní, which works with the 450 asylum seekers currently in direct provision in Limerick.
Aideen Roche from Doras Luimni told me that the majority of them are young men between 20 and 35. They’re not fundraising friendly, and nobody ever collects gifts for them. This makes me sad too – just because they’re young men doesn’t automatically make them mad, bad or dangerous, and it must be so hard for them feeling that nobody cares. But this is about the kids… The adults are a bigger project for another time.
There are 47 children in Knockalisheen, and Doras Luimni (located at Central Buildings, 51a O’Connell Street, Limerick) are happy to accept gifts for them, from anybody who would like to help. Here’s a full breakdown of their names and ages. If you’d like to pick a child and buy a gift for them, please leave a comment and I’ll remove them from the list. (If you know me in person and want to leave a gift with me for them, please contact me to arrange).