'Education is as vital as food and I want to say thank you' - Rosemary
Rosemary Kunene of the Dignity Partnership, and Irish Refugee Council Education Fund Ambassador, is taking part in the Vhi Virtual Women's Mini Marathon next month.
Rosemary has spent the last five-and-a-half years in Direct Provision, which she says has been "one of the toughest and hardest journeys" of her life.
"There were times that I felt depressed, sometimes I felt the room I lived in was closing on me and even had suicidal thoughts," she said.
However, she didn't let her situation take the best of her, or define who she was as a person.
She kept busy by volunteering in her community.
She found fulfilment in her volunteering role as an assistant to support worker for the Syrian Refugees resettlement programme with Doras in Portlaoise.
With this, her interest in social work and community development grew.
Rosemary explains how the Irish Refugee Council helped her with her studies: "I enrolled for a BA degree in applied addiction studies and community development at An Cosan Community College.
"I had to knock on so many doors asking for tuition fees and transport fees as I commuted from Portlaoise to Tallaght Jobstown.
"I managed to raise part of my tuition fees and the college waived part of it. However, raising transport funds was tough.
"I was becoming worried as to how I would manage to travel that far when my income was €19.10 a week. That's when Irish Refugee Council assisted me through their education fund."
She continues: "I wasn't going to be able to continue attending classes if it wasn't for this fund.
"Irish Refugee Council Education Fund has made a huge impact in my life.
"Through the community education I have been empowered and founded Dignity Partnership, a social enterprise that aims at providing self-employment support services for refugees and asylum seekers (https://dignitypartners.company).
"I set up Dignity Partnership to make an impact in other people's lives and to change the narrative about migrants, to be seen as integral members of the communities."
Rosemary wants to say thank you to everyone supporting the Irish Refugee Council Education Fund.
She is due to graduate with her degree this October, which wouldn't have been possible if she didn't get support from various individuals and organisations.
She took part in the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon for the first time in 2019, and as she says "it is great fun, I enjoyed it last year, I felt the sense of freedom and this year my freedom is for real as I have finally moved out of Direct Provision centre and started my new life in the community.
"I also want to send the message that education is a necessity like food and shelter. It empowers and gives a person a voice.
"So if you want to make an impact in someone's life, support them with their education needs."
Check out www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie and www.dignitypartners.company to find out how you can support these great organisations.