Sitting in my kitchen watching my toddler play with a saucepan, spoon and some dried pasta, I feel very privileged. Recently I visited a direct provision centre, one of a number throughout the country where people seeking asylum from persecution are placed by the state while awaiting a decision on their case. There are 1500 children living in these centres. They have no access to a kitchen – the heart of most Irish homes.
Children living in direct provision queue for the meals, along with their parents. They are served three meals a day in a canteen within the centre. Parents living in the centre I visited tell me that their children often can’t eat the food; it’s spicy everyday they say – too spicy for their young palettes. Bananas are given on a Thursday: if your child wants a banana on a Monday, they’ll just have to wait. Parents are provided with baby formula until the child is 1 year old, but when they turn 1, it is taken away – the parents have no choice in this. I ask if there are children’s meals or if any alternative is provided if the children can’t or won’t eat what is offered. I am told there is not. As a parent of two small children this seems like an impossibility to me. While my eldest has gotten better with age, I often have to resort to plans B, C, and D to ensure my incorrigibly stubborn toddler doesn’t starve. Continue reading #DirectProvision15: Children in Direct Provision