THE University of Limerick is this week celebrating Sanctuary Week and the Sabbatical Officers at UL Student Life are attempting to live on €38.80 for the week in solidarity with those living in Direct Provision in Ireland.
“The challenge is an opportunity to cast a spotlight on just one aspect of what living in Direct Provision is like. Obviously we’re speaking from a very privileged standpoint and if we go over the €38.80 it really isn’t the end of the world for us as individuals,” says Lorcan O’Donnell, UL Student Life Welfare Officer.
Ciara Jo Hanlon, UL Student Life President said, “It’s going to give us perspective and it comes back to what we take for granted. I can’t go and get a coffee that I want because I have to really think about things that I need which is what our Sanctuary students have to do on a constant daily basis.”
the UL Student Life President said students are used to living on tight budgets “but it’s usually to get things that we want”.
“Whereas those in Direct Provision constantly have to think about what they need. They cannot work, they simply don’t have the same luxuries that we do,” she added.
UL and UL Student Life say they want the week to further open up the discussion on life in Direct Provision and the role people can play in the integration of those living in Direct Provision in society.
UL, which is a University of Sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees, celebrates Sanctuary Week this week from April 1-7.
A number of events and initiatives are also taking place around campus all week for staff and students, including a Sanctuary run, a photographic exhibit, a concert and film screening.
Lorcan O’Donnell, along with Ciara Jo Hanlon, took part in a Sanctuary Run on Monday evening around the university campus with the Sanctuary Runners Limerick, a group of asylum seekers, refugees and Irish citizens running as one in solidarity, friendship and respect.
“There’s such emotional and mental distress coming from the trauma of their fleeing from their home country but also from coming to another country that is institutionalising them in a camp, for lack of a better word, that is separated from the main town which is a symbolic way of saying ‘they’re out there somewhere, just forget about them’,” adds Lorcan.
Since 2017, UL has offered fifteen Sanctuary scholarships every year to those from refugee and asylum-seeking communities, offering support towards the costs of higher education.