I arrived in Ireland with my 4 boys in August 2021. I felt displaced, lost and terrified.
In my confused state of mind, we were put away in isolation for 2 weeks that felt like 2 years, not knowing what would be next. From isolation we were transferred to the reception centre in Balseskin, where I got to know about Sanctuary Runners. I saw a good number of people wearing the blue T-shirt that says ‘Solidarity, Friendship, Respect’. I joined immediately and my kids were so excited knowing they could get out of the reception centre to take in fresh air every Saturday.
There were amazing organisers and an amazing community! Sanctuary Runners is a humanitarian space where everyone is treated with the same respect regardless of colour, size or individual circumstances. Equality and inclusion is always at play in true nature. We felt welcomed, energized and motivated to face the struggle of the asylum seeking process. Our needs were met physically, psychologically and emotionally. It was beyond the walk/jog/run – we had respite, peace and support in the community. Even when we moved from Dublin to Donegal, that spirit followed us to our Letterkenny Sanctuary Runners.
We made friends from other countries, learned new cultures and continuously gaining new family with everyone supporting each other in whatever way possible.
At this stage, I am nearly 3 years with Sanctuary Runners and I’ve lost count of the opportunities gained from being part of that community. My support system is solid firm! I have made connections with many other groups and organisations through Sanctuary Runners, so much so I feel all I need or may need is just a phone call away. I have represented Sanctuary Runners on the Ray Darcy show on RTÉ Radio 1 and it was such a great experience! Through doing the run, my children have developed an interest in sports and now play football, hurling, gaelic and basketball in community clubs and representing their schools all over Ireland winning medals.
To anyone thinking of joining Sanctuary Runners, I would say “Welcome to a circle of friendship! Your dignity and values are respected here and you will never walk alone”.