Since Fabien Hamadou was placed in a hotel, he lost 10 kilos in weight, and he wasn’t very big before. The HSE has let this health care worker from direct provision down. And that is a sign of systemic racism.
Leaving Direct Provision during COVID19
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I immediately understood that there was a danger for the many health care workers in Direct Provision. These people would go out to work in nursing homes or other care homes where COVID 19 was prelevant, and come back to their shared room. With 2 in Kinsale Road Accommodation centre, but more in other centres. The danger was clear. Sharing a room would be detrimental.
We started making some noise on Twitter, I also started a petition asking to solve the problem by giving care takers the leave to remain in Ireland, it would set them free to go and find accommodation for themselves, and would be the right gesture to those that take care of our mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters during this difficult time, often risking their own health.
The government listened to the noise, and after a month or so, they provided alternative accommodation for health care workers.
I don’t know where everyone was housed, but I do know about Fabien. He was housed in a lovely hotel in Cork City, where he was given a standard room. The first impression was good, but then reality sank in.
Sylvain is used to making his own food, he doesn’t like the food served in the hotel. There is no fridge in his room, he has no access to a kitchen, and is not allowed to have visitors. Soon the nice hotel became a true headache for Fabien. He was constantly hungry, and tried to eat what was served to him in cardboard boxes every day. But he just couldn’t eat much. And to make matters worse, every time he worked a late shift, he would come home after 10 PM, when the kitchen was closed and had no food at all.
I was in regular contact with Fabien, I complained during one of the meetings we had with the City of Sanctuary movement, and was asked for his contact details. The HSE would contact him. They didn’t.
I complained again. Fabien told me he got a call from someone of a HSE helpline, they promised him a call back. They didn’t.
I complained again. This was during a meeting with the HSE inclusion team where we could flag problems. I was told to ‘just tell me what he wants, give me his contact details and I’ll sort it out’. I agreed with him that someone important would call him and promised to look for a self catering facility. He was delighted, but…. the call never came.
Even before he was put into this hotel, Fabien had begged for help to get him out of Direct Provision so he would not lose his job, the call from HSE was promised, but never came.
This is now 4 times that Fabien Hamadou was made promises which were never fulfilled. Even if it was impossible to help him, a simple call explaining the issues would have been welcome.
And in the light of BLM, we need to take a hard look at this. Do you think that Fabien Hamadou would not have been helped if his name had been Sean O’Donovan? Of course he would have been! This is just one example of systemic racism. I know the HSE inclusion team does nice things with asylum seekers during these pandemic, well just the ones who have been moved into the hotels for self isolation or to thin out overcrowded centres. They take them for walks, and entertain them. But this man, the one who is working his socks off to help this country out during the pandemic, the one who begged for help since he arrived in the hotel, is left to go hungry. He lost weight. He was told he’ll stay untill the end of July, then, if all goes well, he’ll have to move back to his shared room in DP. He is a black man, going hungry in Kingsley hotel, with the full knowledge of the HSE inclusion team. Let that sink in.
Black Lives don’t seem to matter too much to some here in Ireland.
Please sign the petition here. https://www.change.org/CaretakersinDP
Have a listen to what he says.
*Names changed to protect the privacy of the person involved