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TII - Migration Research Fair Migration and Community Relations Coping with the changes + challenges of exile: The experiences of unaccompanied minors.

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Presentation on theme: "TII - Migration Research Fair Migration and Community Relations Coping with the changes + challenges of exile: The experiences of unaccompanied minors."— Presentation transcript:

1 TII - Migration Research Fair Migration and Community Relations Coping with the changes + challenges of exile: The experiences of unaccompanied minors living in Ireland. Muireann Ní Raghallaigh, School of Social Work and Social Policy, TCD. This research was funded by The National Children’s Office, The Children’s Research Centre (TCD), and The School of Social Work and Social Policy (TCD)

2 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie2 Research Methodology Attempts to elicit the young people’s experiences of adjusting to life in Ireland Qualitative study: participant observation & interviews (32) Trust and distrust as influential factors in the research design.

3 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie3 Key Insights – 1 – Ordinary Lives, Changes and Challenges Talking about the ‘ordinary’ aspects of their past lives:  Family, Friendships, and Schooling Encountering multiple changes and challenges:  Life without family and childhood friends  Adjusting to a new and different culture  Dealing with the challenges of the asylum process

4 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie4 Key Insights – 2 - Coping Using various coping strategies: Maintaining continuity Adjusting by learning and changing Adopting a positive outlook Suppressing emotions and seeking distraction Viewing themselves as self reliant

5 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie5 Maintaining Continuity in a Changed Context Ireland now, Maybe the Irish people may not accept it but it’s mixed culture now. And there is different cultures here. There is African shop. If I want my Nigerian food I can get it. And if I want to go to Nigerian church I could go. But assuming all these things are not there and it’s purely Ireland, you know it would be more difficult because you really miss home. Because that life is not there. But the way it is now. I’m in Ireland but if I want to live a Nigerian life, you could still get it, like.

6 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie6 Viewing Themselves as Self-Reliant You are no longer Mammy’s boy or Daddy’s boy, you know how you grow up, you take care of yourself, you have to learn to live without your parents, you know. Eh, taking your own responsibilities … I’m deal-with-your-own- problems guy. I deal with my own problems

7 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie7 Key Insights – 3 – The Prevalence of Distrust Participant observation – Distrust of me as researcher – Spontaneous conversations about not trusting Interviews: – Often only trusting certain people or trusting people to a certain extent

8 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie8 Key Insight – 4 - Reasons for Distrust 1. Past experiences 2. Being accustomed to distrust 3. Being distrusted by others 4. Inability to tell the truth 5. Not knowing people well Their distrust was ‘functional’ (Kohli, 2006) – another coping strategy

9 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie9 Key Insights – 5 – Importance of Faith Negotiating a very different religious culture  Religion was depicted as being embedded in the participants’ countries of origin  Irish people perceived to be uninterested in faith.  Young people spontaneously mentioned God and religion

10 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie10 Irish Peers and Church Oh they never go to church [laughs] […] No. They would only laugh at me when I say ‘you wanna go to church’ or something like that. No. They would probably still be like … probably still like, sleep ins while I’m in church, like, in the morning. And everything like that. They wake up at 12 o clock or 11.

11 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie11 The Role of Faith (A) Faith Provided Comfort and Companionship God as a source of comfort and support, and a companion who journeyed with them. Also: comfort and companionship provided by those they met at religious services.

12 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie12 Relationship with God God perceived as trustworthy God providing continuous support The only, only, only friend [laughs] I trusted all the time, that’s God. […] I don’t have any more friends, I trusted more than God, I don’t think so. You know because, always God knows more than everybody. And God’s gonna help you all the time. […]God always gonna help.

13 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie13 Seeking God’s support through prayer Their ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ life experiences (Kohli, 2006) evident in what they prayed for: I just pray for God to help me, you know? Help me to … see the right man. That will like, love me. Get married. Settle down. Have a nice job. Just to get my status. You understand? Get my status. Have a nice job. Live a nice life with my family […] I would pray for my aunt. … My brother. For God to help him. I want to see him.

14 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie14 The Role of Faith (B) Faith provided continuity amidst much discontinuity Continuity in their relationships with God Continuity in religious services Religion and faith served as ‘anchors’ for the Ums

15 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie15 Continuous Relationship with God God helped them at home and continues to help them in Ireland Because I believe he’s the one that sent the man to help me. I believe he’s the one that brought me to this, eh, country, you understand? I believe he’s the one that’s still protecting me up till now. I believe with him everything is possible.

16 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie16 Opting for Continuity The young people chose to practice their faith They also adapted their faith to their new circumstances The African Christians chose churches that provided continuity

17 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie17 Deciding what Church to Attend That church [African church] is like … Catholic church back home. They sing and dance and … all … But I don’t like the way they pray and all that stuff. When they praying, they screaming and so, I just go like (?) a Catholic church, you know how they pray very quiet. And in my own way I pray very quiet. […] They’re not screaming, praying.

18 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie18 Enjoying Services Wanting vibrant and lively services: It’s a good church. I like it. The most thing I like about it is the pastor. The pastor is really good. I like him. He, like, he would preach and he would make jokes. You know jokes like, making an example. He would say something in Bible and try to make an example of it and make it as, as a joke. I mean he is funny…. And he don’t get boring, you know. Some pastors when they are starting preaching, can nearly get asleep, but this one, no way.

19 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie19 Reflections on Methodology Used Participant observation: can build trust and arouse suspicion! Overall, a worthwhile endeavour. Interviews: A positive experience for the young people? Eager to talk, particularly about their ‘ordinary’ lives. “I happy to tell you because … I like to tell someone, to talk someone about my country.”

20 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie20 Concluding Comments This research draws attention to – Multiple challenges + changes faced by UMs – Their purposeful use of various coping strategies – The particularly important role played by faith They emerge as “active survivors” rather than as “passive victims” (Rousseau & Drapeau, 2003, p. 78).

21 24/09/2007 mniragh@tcd.ie21 References Kohli, R.K.S. (2006b) The Sound of Silence: Listening to What Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children Say and Do Not Say. British Journal of Social Work, 36 (5): 707-721. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pargament, K.I. (1997) The Psychology of Religion and Coping – Theory, Research, Practice. London: Guilford Press. Rousseau, C. & Drapeau, A. (2003) Are refugee children an at-risk group? A Longitudinal study of Cambodian Adolescents. Journal of Refugee Studies, 16 (1), 67-81.


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