A new Athlone Community Radio documentary shines a light on the personal stories of the asylum seekers who live in the accommodation centre in Lissywollen.
The first of a six-part series entitled 'Just Bearable' airs on 88.4fm from this Saturday, January 26 at 5.30pm and contains more than 15 powerful stories about an immigrant's life in Athlone. What is unique about the series is that the asylum seekers themselves made the programme after completing training in Athlone Community Radio.
Each programme delves into the lives of local asylum seekers, from how they are coping with the reality of everyday life while living in a direct provision site, to how the years of waiting affects them physically and emotionally and why they are not allowed to work and how much benefits they actually receive.
"These stories will transform how you think about asylum seekers in many ways," says Irena Cvetkovic, an award-winning journalist who produced the six-part programme series, with the support of the Sound and Vision Broadcasting Scheme, a Broadcasting Authority of Ireland initiative.
The half-hour programme is broadcast every Saturday from January 26 at 5.30pm and repeated the following Tuesday from 6pm to 6.30pm. You can also listen to the series online at www.athlonecommunityradio.ie
"Every week you can cry and laugh listening to the harsh life path stories - from a girl from Eritrea who spent four years in the army, an educated Zimbabwean woman who has been waiting for years for papers, a women's rights activists who had to flee Zimbabwe to a man from Iraq who lost his close family in Baghdad and others from Bhutan, Pakistan and many more. Some kids who are also part of the programme have spent most of their childhood living in a caravan on the direct provision site," says producer Irena Cvetkovic.
Programme five is dedicated to teenagers poignantly telling how tough it is for them to tell their friends where they live, how they missed their graduation as they couldn't afford it and the frustration of not being allowed to go to college. The last episode is an interview with the Residents Committee at the Lissywollen Accommodation Centre which aims to bring the residents together and uplift their spirits.
Key contributors are Emmanuelle Uche, Patricia Kagodora, Heidar Al-Hasimi, Simangele Ndlovu, Dinesh Tapa and Asmeret Teklai. Original music by Fergal Cox and Fergie Milton. Produced and edited by Irena Cvetkovic.