Asylum seeker nominated for Mum of the Year reveals struggles of bringing up children in hostel room
SIPHATHISIWE Moyo has lived in an asylum seekers’ hostel in Salthill, Co Galway since arriving in Ireland from Zimbabwe in 2008.
There she has a single room, where she raises her children Victoria, 17, Emmanuel, 14 and four-year-old Alexander.
Unable to work, Siphathisiwe cares for her family on a paltry allowance of just €19 a week, plus €9 for each child.
She told the Mirror: “If you live in direct provision and you’re trying to raise a family, a family of four all living off €19, it’s the most difficult thing that anyone can experience.
“You get to a point where you lose your sense of self-worth, because we live on hand-outs.
“You can imagine my situation where I’m raising two teenagers in a small, tiny room. We get to a point where there is no privacy.
“I don’t mean to complain, as long as I have my children I don’t care what surrounds me.”
When she arrived in Ireland, Siphathisiwe endured an agonising three year wait for her children to join her, which she recalls as the darkest period of her life.
She said: “I didn’t cope well really. It was very difficult for me, I was in deep depression. I couldn’t do anything. It was difficult for me to get up. I cried all the time.
“It was tough for me to even go downstairs and eat in the canteen.
“It was really difficult for me to sit there and watch other people eating with their children, when I didn’t know if my own children had eaten or not, whether they were OK or not.”
She added: “When my children came here I felt like I was born again. The night they came, we slept on the same bed, the four of us.
“From then on things just changed for me. I became myself, I became strong.”
And while she is grateful to have escaped her strife-torn homeland, Siphathisiwe says it is hard not to despair in the endless system of direct provision.
She said: “If you come from countries where there is war, it’s not a bad place to live in, if you know that you are going to be there for just six months.
“Because you are safe, you can sleep knowing that nothing will happen to you. But the problem with direct provision is that it goes on forever.
“I’ve been there for seven full years. The only issue is the time that people are spending in it.
“In the place I am here, I can’t cook for my children. Everything has to be done for us. It sort of takes away your basic rights as a person.”
Siphathisiwe completed her Leaving Cert last year and will go on to study for a degree in Community Development in September.
But she says she already feels like a winner, after her daughter Victoria put her forward for the Woman’s Way and Lidl Mum of the Year competition.
She said: “I feel like I’ve won already. Just for my daughters to nominate me, it shows how much they appreciate me, they respect what I do for other people.
“As an asylum seeker I’ve been vocal about the issues that are affecting people. I did that because I feel that it’s wrong for people to be treated the way we are treated sometimes.
“I leave my children a lot of the time, going out to speak for other people. If my children appreciate that, it feels like I’ve already won.”
This article was originally published by the Irish Mirror