To mark the end of its second term, Jesuit Refugee Service (Ireland) held a quiz last Thursday for asylum-seeking children who attend the JRS Homework Club. The Club is held in Clondalkin Towers, a state-provided accommodation centre for people seeking asylum, and is available to the students on two afternoons each week. Proceedings start with a chat and a snack; then the children are given assistance with school work for an hour; and the afternoon is usually rounded off with some board games. It is coordinated by JRS Ireland’s Integration Officer, Elizabeth O’Rourke (pictured here), upon whom it falls to be the disciplinarian, and co-lead by JVC Volunteer Steve Hayes, who can afford to be the fun-guy. Three other volunteers help out with the education and the crowd control.
Why the Homework Club?
Life in an accommodation centre is not easy, and family life is particularly constrained. The children have to share a room with their parents and siblings and have nowhere to do homework or to play. Sometimes the parents of the children cannot speak English or have a low level of educational attainment, so there is an important role for JRS in supporting the children through school.
It should be remembered that many of the children have been subject to traumatic situations in their home countries.
In Ireland the children living in direct provision centres can face further challenges in their local community. They have been labelled as the ‘hostel kids’ in school. Yet their resilience and good humour in dealing with the difficult hand that life has dealt them is always inspiring.