FRC’s ‘Storytelling’ project gives immigrants a voice

Service users at South Roscommon Family Resource Centre have been afforded the opportunity to share their stories thanks to a unique video project in conjunction with Healthy Ireland and Roscommon County Council.

The Storytelling project features the rich personal stories of Lucy Tomasiewicz and Dorotha Dumiela from Poland, Andreas Kompus a Slovakian Roma, and Bianca Fachel and her parents Leilia and Ismar Fachel Sarda from Brazil.

The participants share personal details about their lives growing up in their home countries and how they came to live in Ireland.

Speaking at the first airing of one of the videos, South Roscommon FRC coordinator Sarah Brennan said it was hoped the project would raise awareness of the services on offer.

“We are a relatively new Family Resource Centre, having started our work at the very beginning of lockdown, but over the past two years and a half years we have been fortunate to meet and work with lots of families from all sorts of different backgrounds,” she said.

“Very often the centre is so busy that it’s difficult to know much about our clients and visitors beyond their very immediate needs”.

Sarah said that funding received from Healthy Ireland through Roscommon County Council enabled the centre to learn about people’s experiences.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to learn what life was like in their country of origin, what made them move to Ireland, and what life has been like for them since,” she said.

“We’re so grateful to those who participated in the process – Lucy, Dorotha, Andreas, Bianca, Leilia and Ismar – and to Mike (Hourigan) who recorded the film, and to Sarajane McNaboe who facilitated the workshops.

“I’d also like to give a special thanks to Valerie, Maria and Marie who have been a source of great support to us this week, and our team here at the FRC, who work so hard to make this centre a place of welcome for everyone, and especially to Felicia without who we wouldn’t be here today”.

The stories featured include that of Polish woman Lucy, who grew up in a small village in Poland before moving to Ireland for a better life. One month after arriving in Roscommon, Lucy met her now husband Michael, who is also from Poland in Rockfords Nite Club.

Lucy’s compatriot, Dorotha, who moved to Ireland 15 years ago after falling in love with the country on a summer break, said she now has two homes.

“Telling my story was like therapy and I really appreciate it,” she said.

Andreas Kompus is a member of the Roma people from Slovakia. He details his difficult childhood in a small Slovakian town where Roma were ostracised by other members of the community.

Andreas was just a child when his family came to Ireland. He described his first night sleeping in his own room as “heaven”, and said their lives have completely changed for the better.

Brazilian woman and talented musician Bianca Fachel also features in the video. She has started a family here and also built a music studio at her home in Roscommon. She was recently joined by her parents.

The videos will soon be availabl