In the second half of this podcast episode, Blindboy plays an excellent and important live interview with Ellie Kisyombe abd Michelle Darmody, the founders of Our Table. Our Table is a non-profit organisation that "aims to build an awareness of food in multicultural Ireland and to highlight that the current system of Direct Provision is deeply flawed". People seeking asylum that enter Ireland are placed in a system called Direct Provision, where they live in shared accommodation and receive an allowance of €19.10 per week. People in Direct Provision are not allowed to cook for themselves and for-profit catering companies provide high-profit margin, low quality and low nutritional value food to adults and children. People can be in Direct Provision for up to two decades and many children grow up in Direct Provision eating very bad food.
Open Table organise events based around food and invite people in Direct Provision to come together to cook and eat traditional food from around the world. They have expanded to make and sell their own food sauce products and donate 50 cent from each product to education funds for children in Direct Provision. They also now provide catering services for events using a menu of food from the many countries that represent the people in Direct Provision. I highly recommend listening to this podcast interview. Ellie's enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring, considering the conditions that she is living in.
It's easy to categorise people seeking asylum with the "asylum seekers" label that the media has popularised and forget that they are people and families. Imagine not begin able to decide what you want for breakfast, a decision many of us make everyday. Now imagine not having a choice in any meal of the day or on what time you want to eat. Say goodbye to any hangover cures, comfort treats or nourishing food. If you are a parent, consider not having any say in what food your child is given to eat. This is the reality that people in Direct Provision face every day. They are not allowed to work, have little to no personal space and no control over what to eat. Consider the effect all of this would have on your sense of autonomy and mental health. To make things worse, deliberate arson attacks on Direct Provision centres have forced the location of new centres to be kept secret. As an Irish person, I feel ashamed that people seeking asylum are treated this way by the Irish government and certain people in Irish society. I understand that Ireland has plenty of problems to address, but saying a problem like Direct Provision can't be addressed or doesn't need to be addressed until the homelessness crisis or the housing crisis or the health service is fixed is bullshit. We should know better, be better and do better. For the last 170 years, Irish people have travelled all around the world, at first fleeing starvation and later seeking to make a better life. These people are doing the same. End Direct Provision.