• Being a peace messenger at a Asylum Seeker Centre

    In August 2009 I spent 2 weeks at Mosney Asylum Seeker Centre near Dublin, Ireland. The workcamp was organised by VSI Ireland and involved a play scheme with 16 international volunteers and about 60+ asylum seekers children aged between 5 and 16 years. The children were at the centre with their parents many of whom came from countries where there is great turmoil e.g. Palestine, Congo, Kurdistan, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. The irony is that Mosney used to be a holiday camp for Irish workers escaping their busy working lives. Now Mosney is a place for asylum seekers escaping a very uncertain existence and hoping for a better life.

    There was a peace messenger study session for international volunteers on the Mosney workcamp. And in a way there was a peace messenger element working with there children by trying to get them to resolve conflict amongst each other without resorting to conflict. But this was not always easy. Working in a asylum seeker centre can be quite fraught. At any time families can be deported, often in the middle of the night. I guess, as a peace messenger, I could have done more with the adult asylum seekers. I was told there was sometimes conflict, not surprising bearing in mind there were 800 people from 60 countries living at Mosney. The conflict derives from religious, political and nationalistic differences. Maybe SCI peace messengers could get together with SCI conflict resolution volunteers and SCI "no more war" volunteers and devise some project. It would be a challenge but could achieve some concrete results.

    Overall i think being a SCI peace messenger in a asylum seeker centre is a challenging and worthwhile thing to do. I am always being told to prove effectiveness, have SMART objectives, develop evidence based results etc etc. But sometimes building sand castles near the Irish Sea with a group of asylum seeker kids having fun and laughing is enough for me. Okay not very scientific but as Bob Dylan sings "you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows".

    Mike Burkett
    IVS GB

    April 2010

  • When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. (Dalai Lama)