Back in May 2002, when I arrived in
However, when exactly a year later, I left Limerick for
The wonderful folks at Doras Luimni were such a great help and were able to point me towards a few agencies that could be interested in volunteers. I ended up helping out at the Barnados shop, sorting out second hand clothes for resale. It was however, at two other organisations that I spent some of my happier moments in
After moving on from Barnados, I went to the Red Ribbon Project (RRP), where I met the manager, Ann and the rest of the team and from day one felt I had met my kindred souls. Coming from a country (
As a journalist, I volunteered my writing skills, drafting media articles and preparing information leaflets. I also participated in some of the exciting events held by the RRP to commemorate important days like the World Aids Day and Irish Aids Day, with music concerts and the ‘Great Red Ribbon Project Ride Out’. I am grateful for the good times I spent with the RRP team as it enabled me to gather my wits and set me on the path to integrate well into local society.
After dogged persistence, I finally got an audience with the editor of the Limerick Leader, Brendan Halligan, a fine gentleman, if ever there was one. After the meeting during which I brandished my by now well-worn portfolio containing select columns, feature and news articles that I had written in almost 6 years as a journalist in Zimbabwe, I was given an opportunity to prove myself as a journalist. I initially worked from home, writing features on the ethnic minority community and the new-found cultural diversity in
I enjoyed my time at the Leader and I must say this was in great part thanks to the editor and the rest of the team, in particular the news editor, Eugene Phelan’s patience and kindness in guiding me through during my first days and Martin Byrnes, with whom I would sometimes spend Friday afternoons discussing a whole range of topical issues including the situation in Zimbabwe as we posted the online edition of the paper. My time at the Leader opened my eyes to the Irish working environment and I am certain that this helped immensely in preparing me for the subsequent career path in the NGO and state sector.
No-one should really be surprised when 20 years from now, we have first and second generation citizens from immigrant stock in