The karen people's life in Ireland

Takaw Paw
Thu 18th June 09 10:12 am

On 18th September 2007 we arrived in Ireland. We are the first Karen refugee people in Ireland.Ten families came to Ireland. First we stayed in Ballyhaunis for ten weeks and then we moved to Castlebar. At first we found it difficult to speak the English language. The food is different to karen food and the weather is sometime wet and cold. Also we have seen snow for the first time in Ireland. In November 2007 we started learning English through a course with Integrate Ireland Language and Training. This course lasted for 12 months then we had a break for a few weeks. After the break we went back to school. Some adults went to study with the (VEC) Vocational Education Committee in Castlebar. The children went to study in Davitt College in Castlebar. Some children go to primary school then after school finishes they attend a homework class where they learn more English.

Since I came to Ireland the Irish people have been very friendly. They have invited us to many parties.The people of Mayo have established a befriending group. With the group I have learned Irish dancing. We have also visited the beaches and woodlands of Mayo. We have had barbeque's on the beach and we have climbed mountains. 

Every week we meet with people from different countries. Mayo Intercultural Action is an organisation that arranges for newcomers to Ireland to meet each other. Every Tuesday night we have English conversation class from 7pm to 8pm and on Wednesday night we have a singing workshop. During the workshop we learn songs from different countries.

At the moment I am attending a Local Training Initiative with 3 other Karen people. This is a type of FAS course. Here we are learning how to use the computer. We are also learning about Irish Folklore and we are learning English language skills.

On 27th May 2009 Karen people started growing their own vegetables in the Karen community garden. An Irish lady called Suzy teaches the Karen people to grow vegetables in the garden. We go to the garden on Monday and first after school finishes.

We are very happy in Ireland. The Irish government provides the Karen people with enough money to live comfortably here. Now we are happy with our new lives in Mayo.

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