Migrant and refugee organisation Doras is planning a major online event on Thursday December 9th to mark its 21st anniversary, while also reflecting on 21 years of the Direct Provision system and the campaign to end it.
Former Knockalisheen Direct Provision resident Donnah Vuma will be a special guest speaker. Donnah is well known as founder of the Every Child in Your Child organisation and a co-founder of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI). Donnah is a former recipient of the Clare Woman of the Year award by the Soroptimist International Ennis and District Club.
Doras was established in Limerick by a small group of dedicated volunteers back in 2000 as a response to the need to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those in Direct Provision. The name Doras, the Irish for door, was chosen to symbolise an open welcoming door for new communities in the region. Since then Doras has become one of the biggest organisations of its kind in the country with a growing regional and national reach.
From the early days when the focus on English language classes, outreach visits and charity donations, Doras has grown to provide a broad range of information, integration, and support services, as well as a dedicated advocacy and policy unit. Anti-trafficking programmes and combating racism is also part of this work, as is research into migrant mental health. Doras also works with partners on refugee resettlement and community sponsorship programmes, supporting people from war-torn countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. Partners have included Clare Immigrant Support Centre. The organisation is also very focused on the ongoing campaign to highlight concerns with the Direct Provision system, while working to ensure the government honours its commitment to end the system by 2024.
John Lannon first got involved with the organisation as a volunteer back in 2006 and is now the CEO. He says the 21st anniversary is a hugely important milestone.
“We feel it’s important to honour the vision and dedication of the original founders of the organisation, and all those who have worked so hard to get us to where we are today. Doras is very much a community, and we belong to the community. Most importantly we are here to serve and protect the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who are among the most vulnerable in our society today. They are always front and centre in everything we do, and they are also our inspiration. Seeing the challenges that they face every day, and all they have had to overcome to be here, it powers us on. Ireland has a rich history of migration across the world. We left these shores in our droves and it’s so important we do all we can to support those who come to these shores seeking refuge, protection, and a better life.”
Doras is funded by fundraising, community donations, and from grants and support from the JP McManus Benevolent Fund; the Sisters of Mercy; the Redemptorist Community;, the Health Service Executive; the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Community Sponsorship); and the Department of Justice and Equality (Anti-Trafficking).
Doras is without core funding, so community fundraising efforts are particularly important, especially as fundraising has been additionally challenging during the pandemic. The organisation is appealing for ongoing funds, as well as asking people to support its Christmas Appeal.
On Thursday December 9th at 7pm Doras is holding a major anniversary event, which is being produced by Lahinch-based author and social innovator Ruairí McKiernan. The event will reflect on the past, look to the future, and focus on the campaign to end Direct Provision. The people of Clare and beyond are invited to the online event.
Guests also include Clare-based musician Steo Wall, Afghan refugee and musician Elena Yaqubee (live from Lesbos), Doras co-founder and Life President Ann Scully, Dublin-based Syrian Journalist and former Limerick resident Razan Ibraheem as host, filmmaker and campaigner Caoimhe Butterly, artist Jean Ryan Hakizimana, former Doras CEO Karen McHugh, and Hassan Shariff from Doras. There will also be a contribution from Minister Roderic O’Gorman, and further guests to be announced.
Registration is free via Eventbrite and the link is at Doras.org.