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‘People coming from foster care need to be able to see and hear about good stories so they can start the process of healing’

Having moved from Nigeria with his family, Alpha Ike went through the direct provision system. Then, at age 11, he was abandoned by his mother. His foster parents provided a safe home for him and his siblings and helped him navigate the trauma of his childhood, inspiring him to help others, excel in life and become a positive role model

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"... Then, social services came and got us and dropped us at a foster home while they figured out where they were going to put us.” Picture by Owen Behan.

"... Then, social services came and got us and dropped us at a foster home while they figured out where they were going to put us.” Picture by Owen Behan.

Cáit (Catherine Clinch) is greeted by the woman of the house Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) after a long journey in An Cailín Ciúin.

Cáit (Catherine Clinch) is greeted by the woman of the house Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) after a long journey in An Cailín Ciúin.

He found an outlet in sport. “Any time I got a chance, I gave it everything — I’m the same now: GAA, soccer, basketball, tennis, athletics, everything. I always turned up." Picture by Owen Behan.

He found an outlet in sport. “Any time I got a chance, I gave it everything — I’m the same now: GAA, soccer, basketball, tennis, athletics, everything. I always turned up." Picture by Owen Behan.

He was a popular figure on campus, acting as vice president of the Mental Health Society, and organising ice-breakers, festivals, and an award-winning ‘random acts of kindness’ initiative for students. Picture by Owen Behan.

He was a popular figure on campus, acting as vice president of the Mental Health Society, and organising ice-breakers, festivals, and an award-winning ‘random acts of kindness’ initiative for students. Picture by Owen Behan.

During the pandemic, Ike and his brothers — Victory is now a school vice principal and Heaven is a student — returned home to bunk in with Miranda and Michael, and their dogs Bruno, Paws and Daisy May. “I felt so privileged to go home for three months. The worst of my struggles were my siblings winding me up." Picture by Owen Behan.

During the pandemic, Ike and his brothers — Victory is now a school vice principal and Heaven is a student — returned home to bunk in with Miranda and Michael, and their dogs Bruno, Paws and Daisy May. “I felt so privileged to go home for three months. The worst of my struggles were my siblings winding me up." Picture by Owen Behan.

Ike’s no slouch when it comes to breaking the mould. Since featuring in the RTÉ documentary, he’s been invited to do some other TV work. He’s also modelling and taking acting lessons. Picture by Owen Behan.

Ike’s no slouch when it comes to breaking the mould. Since featuring in the RTÉ documentary, he’s been invited to do some other TV work. He’s also modelling and taking acting lessons. Picture by Owen Behan.

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"... Then, social services came and got us and dropped us at a foster home while they figured out where they were going to put us.” Picture by Owen Behan.

One morning 12 years ago, when student Alpha Ike was 11, and his brothers, Victory and Heaven, were 13 and seven respectively, they woke up to discover their mother was gone. “My mom left suddenly and we didn’t know where she went — she left us with a friend in an estate in Cavan town,” remembers Ike. The family had moved to Ireland from Nigeria when he was seven. They entered the direct provision system and were moved around a lot, spending time at centres in Dublin, Tipperary, Galway and Cavan, before their mother left. Later, Ike learned that she had returned to Nigeria.

We were just crashing there at my mother’s friend’s for a week, two weeks — we didn’t know what was happening. Then, social services came and got us and dropped us at a foster home while they figured out where they were going to put us.”


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