The ‘Putting Down Roots’ project aims to raise funds for young people who have lived in Direct Provision to enter third-level education.
Launched on November 18th in Tullamore, Co. Offaly, the project is a collaborative effort between arts group Museum of Everyone, visual artist Steven Doody, the Irish Refugee Council and climate change group Easy Treesie.
The initiative will see the planting of 8,000 native trees to represent the number of people seeking asylum in Ireland and living in Direct Provision.
Each tree can be purchased for €5, with the overall fundraising goal being €40,000 to help fund the education of young people who have been in the Direct Provision system. For more information on how to sponsor a tree, click here.
According to research conducted by College Connect in partnership with the Irish Refugee Council, refugees in Ireland experience significant barriers to further education including financial issues, poor living conditions, food poverty, and lack of transport links.
Up until this year people in Direct Provision had to pay international fees for PLCs and undergraduate courses. International fees still apply to those who wish to pursue a postgraduate degree.
Amanda Nyoni, a resident in Direct Provision and spokesperson for the project spoke to RTÉ during the launch. She explained that even a small donation could make a difference: “I have seen a lot of my friends face challenges… We all need to exercise empathy.”
“Just take a moment to breathe, and think ‘okay, what do I lose by helping this person?”
The project’s first tree planting ceremony was held at Scoil Mhuire in Tullamore. Birr and Lough Boora Parklands have been selected to be the next tree planting sites.
Education Officer of the Irish Refugee Council Charlotte Byrne commented on the project at the launch: “We partly want to just bring it back to people’s attention again, that people are living in those centres for years, too long.”
“Ultimately, we just want to bring attention to that, to raise some money, to get some people into education and plant some trees, it’s a nice thing.”