Wednesday, 24 October 2012

RABAH's Story: A Script That Needs to Inspire

I have a week to create the perfect little script, a script that will be shot over four days next month and aired in the first week/ fortnight of December.

The ideal project! How often does a script get turned into a film so quickly?

The goal is to put a human face on the issue of refugees seeking asylum in Ireland. The commission is from the Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative (KASI) and the company making it is Stormlight, from Cork. The same people who are planning to make my tv series, HUNTER; the director is Donogh MacCarthy-Morrogh.

Only about 10% of those who apply will ever get asylum here - and think about that word.


It's a very precious commodity and something we are very, very fortunate to be able to afford to give. The people who flee here would not come if they were safe in the countries in which they were born; countries they love. We, mostly, can feel safe in ours. This, which we take for granted, is a wonderful thing.

I spent last weekend with several of the men and women seeking asylum status in Ireland. From Ghana, Burundi, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Guinea. Not one of these people is here because they have a choice but all of them are in limbo for as long as seven years - unable to work, living in male or female hostels with other men or women they never met before and not even allowed to cook for themselves or their children.

But they are all grateful for being safe. One of the women said that if she wasn't here, she would probably be dead. What mother sends her son into the unknown at 14 years of age unless she believes it is the only way to keep him safe?

So they are wait on decisions. On envelopes that will decide their fate.

For up to seven years!

And in all that time, they get bed and board from the State - although they have no choice where they live and could be moved at any time to another part of the country - but they can't work, which means they can't support themselves or make a home and leave a legacy for themselves and their children.

Limbo. It's a far less pleasant word that asylum. A frustrating and powerless place to be.

And the people I met all want to be useful.
They want to give something back.
They want to re-start their lives before their best years are spent.
They have talents and skills and expertise and enthusiasm and a drive to make a better life for themselves, all of which is being wasted while they, and we, wait for those envelopes.

Many that I met in Killarney work as volunteers, doing whatever work they can to support the community within which they find themselves. Some work in the KASI garden, growing vegetables. All those I met credit the centre as essential for their sanity - a place they can meet and cook, talk, learn new skills, learn English, feel less alone and less desperate while they try to keep mind and body active and alert.

Otherwise, as one man said, "you go crazy".

So the thing with this project - an eight minute script - is that there is far too much to fit in, so much that I want to say or feel should be said... but I can only tell one story. Find one universal story that will reflect all their stories...

And put a human face on refugees seeking asylum in Ireland

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