Compassion: A Hundred Thousand Welcomes

Season 2, Episode 8 (Value: Compassion)

Cead Mile Failte — a Irish phrase that means “a hundred thousand welcomes.” And over the last couple of decades, the Republic of Ireland has found itself welcoming many strangers who have come to its shores seeking asylum. But as in many Western countries, that welcome has not always been done with much compassion. Newcomers sometimes experience hostility and mistrust from some of their new neighbours, and maybe even from officials who are supposed to help them transition to their adopted culture. And then as immigrants step out into their new community, they find some practices that were normal for them at home are met with suspicion and affront by others. But how on earth does a migrant adapt, without compassionate guidance?

Lucy Alexis Dube is ready to offer that compassion and that support. Lucy came to Ireland as a refugee from southern Africa with three little boys thirteen years ago, and she has lived through the experience just described. Now, Lucy is an Irish citizen with a degree in psychology and a professional coach for migrant parents. Both her positive and the negative experiences of learning to integrate into a new culture—especially as a single parent—have motivated her to found her own social enterprise to help other parents integrate. And recently, Lucy was hired by the Cairdeas program, run by Serve the City Ireland, as a parenting facilitator. Cairdeas is an Irish word meaning friendship, and it seeks to give refugees the soft skills and cultural knowledge they need to become a part of their new community.

Lucy was recently named by the Irish Times among “50 People in Ireland to Watch in 2024″ for her work with her social enterprise, Alexia Press Hub. She is also a published author, having written a book called For You With Love for her son, and then published it to share it with the world. You can access Lucy’s website (where you can also purchase her book) HERE.

Listen to this episode here:

Lucy works with asylum seekers who are living in direct provision centers to help them learn how to modify their parenting styles to better fit their new culture and reduce prejudice and suspicion. Even though it looks like she is presenting here, she says her primary role is to listen to them and find out how they were parented, rather than simply telling them a new way.

Lucy was invited in 2019 to a garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin, the home of the Irish President. There she presented President Higgins with a copy of her book, “For You With Love,” which she had written for her eldest son Paul (shown here as her plus one for the garden party). The President hosted the garden party in celebration of those who work to support refugees and people seeking asylum.

Lucy here is with Declan Feeney, a compassionate immigration officer she met on the day of her arrival on September 1, 2013. She never forgot his kindness to her when she arrived in Dublin with her three young boys—something that inspires her to extend that same compassion to other asylum seekers. Declan Feeney, in this photo, is a guest at her book launch in March 2019.

Today, Lucy has four boys: Paul, Sean, Shane and Armani. They are her pride and joy, and another part of her motivation for helping new arrivals parent well. She wants to offer them the support she feels she did not receive when she first came.

Lucy, at far right, is shown here with some of her clients at her social enterprise. She knows that parenting practices may differ from culture to culture, and that part of acclimatizing to a new culture is learning how to parent in a way that fits that culture.

At left is Ronan Coffey, director of Serve the City Ireland, with Kamal, an Iranian refugee befriended through Cairdeas. This photo was for a photo-journal piece a couple years ago funded by the European Union on how EU citizens befriend refugees. (Ronan and Kamal continue to be friends!)

In this photo, Ronan leads a group of asylum seekers on an Irish Culture Tour to Glendalough, an ancient Celtic site. Such tours help newcomers not only to understand their new context better, but also to get to know Irish volunteers who come along as friends!

Normally, the music in our episodes is supplied by our music maestro, Parker Deal. But because this episode is set in Ireland, we asked our talented friends the JenliSisters, Héloise and Mathilde, if we could use some of their inspiring and heartfelt Celtic music from their album, Land of Legend. Actually sisters from Belgium as well as a musical duo, Héloise plays the harp and Mathilde the violin. They also do Celtic electro music in addition to traditional Celtic music! You can find out about their music (and concerts) on their website, and also listen to them on Spotify. Below is the first track from their album, and also the first one we used in the episode:

For more Serving Stories episodes on the value of compassion and/or serving refugees, listen to Nourishing Change through Kindness and Kindness to Ukraine, Continued.

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compassionPodcast Team Intro