Originally from Iraq

Caterer at a Primary School

Huda's Story

Huda recounts the fear and uncertainty of living in Iraq, and how she moved her family to Syria on two occasions in an attempt to flee the insecurity of her homeland. She recalls how her children had to be kept home from school in Iraq due to security threats and the fear they felt when helicopters flew over their home, and never knowing what was going to happen. She even joked about their first few months in Ireland, how her son used to hide when he heard a plane or helicopter flying overhead, but they soon learned that Ireland was very different to Iraq.

In Iraq, Huda was an educated and independent woman having worked as a Physics teacher; and her husband also worked as a professional. But in Ireland, she knew she needed help to integrate and to find employment. Simple things that she took for granted in Iraq were now foreign to her– such as navigating the Irish administration system, the language and even small things like the legality of wearing a seatbelt while driving or making a doctor’s appointment. So she visited the Killarney Asylum Seekers Initiative (KASI), which is an immigrant support service that focuses on integrating asylum seekers and refugees into the local community. From this point, Huda remembers feeling relief, thinking “we are safe, we are in the right place”.

“We are here, we will do our best”

Seeing an opportunity to provide work experience opportunities for newcomers to the community; KASI developed a project within the canteen of the local primary school. Every day, Huda, along with some volunteers from the asylum seeker accommodation centre, prepares lunches for up to 200 students in the school. For Huda, besides being a source of income, she is back in a busy school setting and each day brings a new experience for her. She enjoys creating and preparing interesting menus and creating learning opportunities for the children to be exposed to new foods and cultures. The children are encouraged to ask questions, to learn how the food is prepared, its origins and to explore their palettes and the world around them. Huda is happy to be back working, to be bringing cultural awareness to young children and their families, and to be a part of such an experience in her small community.

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