Visit to Áras an Uachtaráin
To mark the 20th Anniversary of Spirasi, Áras an Uachtaráin hosted Spirasi, for what proved to be a very special day.
Spirasi clients, staff and other key stakeholders of the organisation attended this fantastic event on a beautiful March afternoon. Of those that visited, the following were represented:
· Board Members
117 people in total attended, 64 being either clients or students, their reaction and excitement to meeting President and Sabina Higgins were stand out moments for all of the other attendees.
Key Quotes from President Higgins
"Those who have had torture inflicted upon them, and who continue to suffer as a result, have experienced a trauma that few others can truly comprehend. It can affect all facets of their existence – their sense of self, their relationships with others, their ability to cope with the everyday challenges of life. When this is accompanied by the physical dislocation and stress of seeking refuge far from home, it has the potential of becoming overwhelming.
It is a sobering thought to realise that, since its establishment in 1999, Spirasi has provided rehabilitative supports to over 4,500 survivors of torture from over one hundred different countries. While this indeed is a sobering statistic, it is also an indicator of the enormous wealth of compassion that lies at the heart of Spirasi, an organisation that continually fulfils its mission to protect, rehabilitate and integrate survivors of torture and other vulnerable people.
Over the past twenty years Spirasi has responded with compassion, humanity and decency to the damage that torture wreaks. Spirasi gives enormous practical support to those hurt and helpless people who arrive on our shores in a desperate search for safety. Those supports include medical assessment, psychotherapy, outreach support, assistance to people to integrate into their new home and, of course, the reassurance of being listened to and being believed. Spirasi provides friendship when it is so desperately needed".
Key Quotes Rory Halpin - Director of Spirasi
"President Higgins, Thank you for your kind and inspiring words. On behalf of Spirasi, a sincere thanks to you and Sabina for inviting us to Áras an Uachtaráín – your home – to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. I hesitate in saying ‘celebrate’ as we are also marking twenty years of the need for an organisation that works with asylum-seekers and refugees who have suffered torture – unimaginable, deliberate and intentional pain inflicted by human beings on each other, and sanctioned by the state; torture continues to be widely used, often with impunity, even by countries from which we would expect a much higher standard of behaviour.
But I will stick with the word ‘celebrate’ as we acknowledge that, despite the most horrendous wounds inflicted by torture that affect every dimension of the person, rehabilitation (a word that we use a lot in Spirasi) and healing of the whole person – physical, psychological, social and spiritual – do happen. And that is so worth celebrating. Finally, to our clients, many of whom are in the room, you are the reason that we are here today. Thank you for your courage, your trust in us, your willingness to engage in the often long and difficult healing process, and your inspiration to us in our own struggles to keep going especially when things are at their toughest. Dare I say it, thank you for the challenge that you are to us all to be better - as people, community and nation".