On Monday 20 March the NDRC Trustees welcomed over 100 Friends and guests of NDRC to a very special anniversary event. 2017 marks 21 years of service to refugees and asylum seekers under the auspices of Notre Dame de France church, and 10 years of service by the independent Notre Dame Refugee Centre charity. About 100 current and former volunteers attended the event together with a wide range of supporters and friends.
As soon as the doors opened at 6pm at the venue for the evening, Notre Dame University, the room was buzzing with conversation, enhanced by live Irish music provided by our partners Live Music Now, and an art exhibition by members of our Monday art group.
The main programme for the evening was short speeches from a panel of expert speakers on the theme ‘The Asylum Journey : more than one story’. Natasha Walters, Director of Women for Refugee Women described the retraumatisation of female asylum seekers when they are sent into detention in the UK. Human rights lawyers Mark Scott and Roopa Tanna gave insights into their groundbreaking work defending asylum seeking children and young people including those from the Calais camp seeking reunion with their relatives in the UK. They informed us that since the Dubs Amendment came into force only a handful of children had been admitted under its provision. Eyob Ghilazghy, writer in residence at UK PEN gave us a compelling account of his struggle to maintain free speech in Eritrea, his repeated flights from the country and his work as a human rights defender. Finally Gilles Gasser a journalist from DAHLIA shocked us with the details of the documentary he has just finished making in southern Spain for ARTE TV. He told us of the 500 sq miles of greenhouses where migrants and asylum seekers are exploited and indebted to produce fine tomatoes and other crops for our tables. The documentary link is on our website.
More conversation followed the presentations and the Chair of NDRC, Fr. Paul Walsh closed the evening by thanking all the guests and Friends present for their continued support to the Centre.