The University of Limerick (UL) held its first Sanctuary Week from March 20th to 23rd. This was undertaken as part of the ongoing University of Sanctuary programme, and it main aim was to serve as a platform to raise awareness on issues facing refugees and asylum seekers.
Day 1 focused on the right to understanding, language, food and culture. The focal point was an array of food prepared by University of Sanctuary students and others; visitors who came along to enjoy this were also given the opportunity to take information on relevant issues like direct provision.
The second day (Wednesday) coincided with International Day Against Racism. Students from the International Society and visitors from Sports Against Racism Ireland were joined by other students and staff in the UL Arena for friendly games of football and basketball. Free refreshments and music were also provided, and the slogan for the day was ‘Say no to hate and yes to being together!’
Day 3 provided an opportunity for the university campus community to hear stories of migration from those who have made the journey and those who have supported people on the way. There was a screening of a number of short films by solidarity activist Caoimhe Butterly who was joined by Zoe Lawlor to offer some reflections on their time providing solidarity and support in Lesvos, Calais and elsewhere. This was followed by a series of compelling testimonies and presentations from University of Sanctuary student Sikhulekile Ruth Ndlovu, former asylum seeker and UL student Jonathan Muhwezi, and Radwan Abo Hajar from the Syrian community in Portlaoise.
The final day of the week was a celebration of sanctuary through music and dance hosted by UL’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. It included performances by UL students and staff, the Elikya Congolese Ensemble, the World Carnival Ensemble from Presentation Primary School, Armenian Music from the Mid East Music Ensemble, Hala Jaber with musicians and singers from Syria and Palestine, John Nutekpor with music and dance from Ghana, Mary Adewunmi Abiodun Adetunji, Mickey Dunne, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and more. The finale to the event and to Sanctuary Week was a giant set-dance that captured the fun and diversity that the University of Limerick is so proud of.
The UL Sanctuary Committee and indeed the entire campus is already looking forward to Sanctuary Week 2019!
Photo credit: Maurice Gunning,Irish World Academy of Music & Dance, University of Limerick. (www.mauricegunning.com).