All posts by Gerry Callaghan

Fields of Gold

Being a refugee support volunteer is difficult, in dark moments I think it’s impossible.

But there are those wonderful days when we walk in fields of purest gold.

Thursday was one of them,  when we presented certificates for the Refugee Online Education course.

Learners and tutors and organisers all gathered in AIT to celebrate a remarkable achievement.

We had done our baseline studies in English, Mathematics and Information Technology. Then we had started MOOCS in specialist study areas. Worldwide the completion rate for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) is 5%. We achieved 80%!

There are no words of thanks possible that would describe the contribution made by Theresa and Chris and Pat and Mairead and Geraldine and Stephen and Majella and so many, many more.

But the real thanks must go to the people who participated in the course. They had the courage to start something strange and new; the persistence to keep going in difficult circumstances; the compassion to help each other.

Once, someone climbed a gate to get to class!  What better feedback could you possible get than this?

It has been an honour and a pleasure to work with you all and I look forward to continuing to do so.

It’s been a marvelous beginning but it’s just a beginning. Now we will show the world what we can do!


Another Refugee Online Education Course

We are now finishing the initial run of the ROLE course and the general opinion is that it has been very successful.  Nine people are continuing advanced online courses.
There have been a lot of requests to run a second one, this time on site. This would be particularly useful for people who, for family reasons,  can’t get away to AIT for a full day.
We are working hard to get our computer lab in-a-box up and running. When we get this done, hopefully week ending 27th,  we will be able to start operations on site.
We will have a meeting about it during next week, keep an eye out for notices on the noticeboards.
Congratulations to the people who organised the St. Patrick’s Day parade entry. New Horizon was the winner in the Voluntary Category.
The awards and presentation evening will be held in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel on Sunday, April 22nd at 6pm.
Thank you for participating and helping to create a successful parade for Athlone.

The Mamtrasna murders

I spent a fascinating hour last night watching this on TG4. The defendants, who did not speak any English, were lost in the nightmare of a legal system they could not start to comprehend. It ended in the predictable way, with three men hanged, one of whom was certainly innocent.

Now why does this remind me so much of the asylum determination process? People who barely understand simple English lost in a kafkaesque world of processes and appeals.

The Mamtrasna Murders

New Horizon meeting

Hello all,

Hope you’re enjoying the recent change in the weather and the extra hour in the evening.

It is planned to have the next New Horizon meeting on the Tuesday the 3rd of April in the Education Room at 6pm.

Hope this time and date will suit everyone and that this email finds you well.

Kindest Regards and Thanks,

Francis and Muhammad.

Why are migrants abused?

“The primary cause for the massive abuse suffered by migrants in all regions of the world, including torture, rape, enslavement, trafficking and murder, is neither migration itself, nor organised crime, or the corruption of individual officials, but the growing tendency of states to base their official migration policies and practices on deterrence, criminalisation and discrimination, rather than protection, human rights and non-discrimination,” Melzer said.

Nils Melzer UN’s special rapporteur on torture


Being famous!

Two of our young friends  Natasha and Minahil spent most of their young life in the Lissywollen DP site.

Watch their story on the UNICEF youth website.

MY STORY – An introduction to Hannan, Natasha and Minahil, three young people who moved to Ireland as children.  This lesson explores the characteristics of personal identity such as gender, race, ethnic group, social class, region of origin, religion. It provides students with an opportunity to explore some of the ways labels are used identify each other and to consider the ways that those labels affect how others think about us, how we behave, and how we think about ourselves.