Ireland was okay for us, but home is home. There is no place like home.
Simon left South Africa for security reasons in 2008 and went to Ireland, which he thought of as a quiet country that would bring him the stability and peace he was looking for. Simon declared himself in Dublin airport as an asylum seeker. Although he was nearly denied entry, he ultimately was placed in an accommodation centre and began the process of applying for refugee status.
A few months later, his wife Esihle brought their three children to Ireland. They were placed in a separate centre, so Simon wrote a letter to RIA requesting that they be reunited. “The place was okay,” Esihle described. “The most important thing was to have a shelter over my head with my kids. So it was okay, though after some time I started losing my mind. I couldn´t cope.”
Simon felt the same. Without being able to work or to study in the centre, he became frustrated. “My mind was going off,” he recalls. “I started thinking a lot. And as a family man, getting €19.20 per week is not normal.”
Simon and Esihle talked about their situation and decided, as a family, to return to South Africa in 2010, although the security situation that caused them to leave had not yet been resolved.
Esihle was the first one to return with the children. She moved to her sister´s house, and used the IOM grant to begin a small sales business from home. However it was not much to start with. “As a mother with three kids, that amount was like a first aid because I had nothing. I came from that side to this one with nothing and you have to pay rent and to feed the kids. To do everything with that income didn´t take me far.”
Simon came back a few months later, in September 2010. He used the remainder of the grant to open a small shop selling jeans and other clothes. “I am struggling,” he confessed to IOM. “The money was very little to make it. You know South Africa. I am not a lawyer, I am not a doctor; it is not easy.” The business was still open and running in 2013, however, he admits that he needs some support to carry on and to be able to buy more stock.
Simon and Esihle live with their four children. Their youngest son (in the photo) was born in South Africa after they arrived.