Thursday 25 April 2013

Tinu - Asylum Seeker

Tinu is from Nigeria.  We met on a course, four years ago; teaching Basic Literacy Skills to Adults.  We had to talk for five minutes about why we wanted to be volunteers.  She made a very impassioned case, if I remember correctly.

Asylum seekers sometimes need help learning to read or write English.  Our course tutors always looked to Tinu when they talked about 'English not being your first language' and she would nod understandingly.  At tea breaks she would talk about the free grinds she gave to primary school children.  Some of these children lived with her in Mosney, Co Louth.  (Mosney is the centre where asylum seekers were housed.)  She explained that she was not allowed to do paid work therefore she volunteered in order to be useful.

A few weeks after that Tinu, Joanna and I were put together to do a project.  Tinu and Joanna had very strong personalities and clashed from the beginning.  I suggested that we all write our submissions and I would try to string them together.  Tinu's essay was amazing.  As we had coffee I asked her if English was her first language.  She replied that is was but that she didn't contradict people when they assumed that she didn't speak English well.  She was used to it.

Later that year a few of us had a reunion and a meal out.  I asked if anyone had seen Tinu.  She had been deported back to Nigeria.

A few months later I got an email from Tinu asking me to join a social network site that I didn't recognise.  I deleted her email without even asking how she was.  I regret it now.

1 comment:

  1. People do make assumptions before actually getting to know the full facts. Sad that you did not get in touch with Tinu.