Syrian journalist’s love letter to Ballaghaderreen

A Syrian journalist who works for Storyful in Dublin made headlines last week when she wrote a ‘love letter’ to the people of Ballaghaderreen following the announcement that the town will welcome 84 refugees in March. Razan Ibraheem wrote her letter following a visit to the town last week.

  Earlier this week, Razan spoke to the Roscommon People and explained how she came to live in Ireland.

  She said: “I came to Ireland in 2011. I was doing my Masters in University of Limerick. I finished my Masters but I couldn’t go back home because of the war.”

  Razan arrived in Ireland just as the unrest was beginning in Syria and had intended to return there having completed her studies.

  “My plan was never to stay in Ireland, I was due to return to Syria to work. I left all my family in Syria but last year I managed to get my brother and sister out. My father and mother are still there,” Razan said.

  The war in Syria has not only claimed many lives, it has also made life for those living there unbearable.

  Razan said that cities such as Damascus have been left without water for up to four weeks and that electricity is unavailable for up to 20 hours a day. She said the situation is appalling and has affected everyone in the country.

  The young woman has hope however that, with the help of countries such as Ireland, the Syrian people can regain their dignity.

  She said: “I think the Irish in general are very welcoming. The people in this area (Ballaghaderreen) are genuine and very honest. This will be a positive contribution to the community. Integration, listening to each other and exchanging cultures will be very positive for Ballaghaderreen and the people arriving there.”

  Razan also said that “very open conversation” is one way in which local people can address any concerns they may have while those Syrians arriving from refugee camps in Greece will be happy just to escape the harsh environment.

  “I think of them arriving in Ballaghaderreen and sleeping in clean beds and living with dignity. Definitely it will be a very positive contribution for the beautiful area of Ballaghaderreen,” she added.

  The way in which the arrival of the refugees was announced by Justice Department officials caused controversy locally but Razan insists that the people in Ballaghaderreen can work together to ensure the situation has a happy ending.

  “Why wait for the politicians? We are on the ground and we can talk to each other. We all have concerns and it always should be a very open conversation between the people,” she said. 

Razan’s letter…

Dear Ballaghaderreen,

This letter is from a Syrian woman living and working in Ireland who had the honour and pleasure of visiting you today. Seeing your beautiful town and meeting your fantastic people have enlightened my life. Syrian refugees will be very lucky to live among such a wonderful and accepting community.

  I met so many lovely people including Mary Gallagher, the true soul and heart of Ireland. I had the best pint of Guinness at the Fiddlers Elbow pub and also the nicest cuppa in Spells bar. Everybody I met, as I wandered around the town in the afternoon of my visit, went out of their way to make me feel welcome.

  By hosting Syrian refugees, you are not only saving and protecting them, you are truly creating new lives with new hope and dreams for the future. You are a true Irish model, let’s tell the whole world about it. Thank you!

Love, Razan