A Place to Call Home – Homayoon’s Story and How Dublin & Glendalough Support Has Helped
In 2003 Homayoon joined Concern as a translator and began his new role assisting local communities in Afghanistan with workshops and training programmes. He progressed in rank within Concern working on their community development, women’s empowerment and education programmes; work he did with the knowledge that his role could place him in serious danger with the Taliban and all other terrorist groups. During his times with Concern Homayoon implemented large scale quality programmes funded by Irish Aid, the European Commission, ECHO, World Bank and other donors. He loved his work in the humanitarian and aid sector.
In 2011, Homayoon met his wife Vacila and in 2012 their first daughter Zeinab was born. Their son Feysal was born in 2013 and their second daughter Oisha followed in 2015. Their family grew against the backdrop of the area where Homayoon worked becoming increasingly unstable. Attacks were on the rise and the schools in which he worked were being targeted and taken under the control of the Taliban. In conjunction with his work Homayoon came to Ireland for training and on one of these trips he made the decision to seek asylum to ensure his and his family’s safety into the future.
Homayoon spent his days in the reception centre in a state of constant fear for his family. They were still in Afghanistan, a country plagued by frequent terrorist attacks. In June 2017 Homayoon was granted refugee status and he quickly applied for his wife, children and elderly mother to join him, waiting patiently for the news that they could come to Ireland. He had been away from his family for 21 months now during which time Homayoon’s youngest son Yosef was born; he had not yet met his father in person. The bitter sweet news came; Homayoon’s wife and children could join him but his application for his mother was refused. New legislation brought in in 2017 severely narrowed the definition of who a “qualifying” family member is under family reunification. Homayoon’s mother lived all her life with him and was dependant on him as she lost her husband when Homayoon was six months old.
It was going to take time to make the arrangements for Vacila and their children to travel to Ireland, so in the meantime Homayoon got a job through the Irish Refugee Council Employment Programme. After a lot of searching and a lot of rejection he finally found a room to rent in Dublin and was finally able to move out of Direct Provision.
Eight months later, things were finally in motion and his wife and children were about to make their way to Ireland. However, a big problem facing people who have family members arriving under family reunification is trying to secure appropriate accommodation for them in advance of their arrival. Homayoon tried his best through all the links he had in Dublin to find a house to rent appropriate for his family’s needs, but nothing came up and he received no reply from the real estate agents he contacted. He had a long association with the Refugee Council so he went to their Integration Projects Manager Rory to see if any assistance could be offered in securing accommodation for his family.
A house had just been donated to the IRC Housing Project by a member of civil society, and it was perfect in size for Homayoon’s family. The house was located in the south though and Homayoon was living and working in Dublin. Knowing that having a home for his family was his greatest priority, Homayoon made a decision to accept the house and relocate, confident that he would secure another job.
In September of this year Homayoon’s wife and children arrived and they moved into their new home together. This was made possible through the support of the parishes in the Dioceses of Dublin & Glendalough and members of the wider public. After such a long journey of separation – talking with his children and wife on apps and screens – Homayoon was reunited with his loved ones and met his youngest son Yosef for the first time. They are now living in a safe and secure home thanks to your support.
Homayoon and his family have praised the great generosity of the supporters of this work.
“Our life is now very beautiful after having this house, but my children and I feel heart broken and lost since my mother Bibi still hasn’t been granted permission to join us in Ireland. Our beautiful house will become a palace when our mother joins us,” said Homayoon.
“Our children were gifts to my mother in Afghanistan. Her health has deteriorated due to stress and the tension of separation. The children call their granny and ask her why she cannot fly to Ireland as they miss her, but they do not understand yet that visa restrictions keep their granny away from them.”
“Since I have relocated to Waterford I have taken on a role as Volunteer with Places of Sanctuary Waterford working to help people in the asylum process and improve integration and the culture of welcome in the city. We have also been linking with Waterford Institute of Technology as they are willing to sign up to be University of Sanctuary.”
Homayoon has also built relationship with Waterford Immigrants Network WIN and regularly inputs to their meetings and discussions. Very recently he found a job with a translation company in Dublin and this brings Homayoon once or twice a week to the capital city. He is hoping to enrol in a community development degree programme, so he can continue his work in the humanitarian and community development sector in the future.
Homayoon’s family has loved Ireland including its “beautiful rains and green environment.”
“My children ask me why they were not brought to Ireland sooner because they love it here. The older two children go to school and Vacila has enrolled in English classes. I really appreciate Ireland and we pray for its growth, development, peace and prosperity.”
To hear more stories from people who have benefited from A Place to Call Home, Dublin & Glendalough’s refugee accommodation programme which supports the Irish Refugee Council, watch this short video:
A proposal to allow a broader category of dependent family members to come to Ireland under family reunification legislation will come before the Dail soon. If you would like to help people like Homayoon reunite with their loved ones please contact your local representatives and bring this matter to their attention. To make this issue a priority TDs need to hear from you.