Finding Sanctuary: Anne's Story

Anne came to Ireland from Nigeria to seek asylum in 2016. She has lived in the direct provision system since that time and in 2017, she began her MSc in Management of Operations through DCU Connected, with support from DCU’s University of Sanctuary initiative.

“Moving alone to a country with a different culture can be quite daunting. I thought Ireland would be a safe place for me, but beyond that, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t heard about the direct provision system, although the only thing that surprised me when I arrived was that people could be living in the system for so many years.

Adapting to life in direct provision did pose some challenges for me. When I first came to my centre we weren’t able to cook, but thankfully that has now changed. I find it much more humane to have my own options to eat different things every day.

I had left a good job with a motor dealership in Nigeria, so adapting to not working was very difficult for me. With the asylum process taking so long and limited options to take part in society, it can be hard to engage and improve yourself. I did avail of some gardening and cooking classes to pass the time in the centre, and I learned to appreciate the many different ways that you can cook a potato!

I first discovered DCU’s University of Sanctuary initiative when I saw a sign on a noticeboard. I attended an information talk and found out about the MSc in Management of Operations, which seemed like an amazing opportunity for me to build on my previous experience of project and supply chain management working in the motor dealership.

I started my course in September 2017, studying remotely through DCU Connected. It was a new challenge to learn through distance education and, although I did miss being in a class, working by myself also helped me to discover new skills such as time management and independent research. It had been a long time since I had studied but luckily my study skills came back to me eventually.

Thanks to my University of Sanctuary scholarship, I also received some books and a laptop, which was great, DCU really had thought of everything that we would need.

Just four months into my course, I gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl. DCU were very supportive and gave me some extensions after she was born. I was determined to power through and get on with my course though. In this regard, the flexibility of the distance learning actually worked very well for me as it meant I could do classes online at night when my daughter was sleeping.

Although I am still in the direct provision system, I try my best to focus on my course and to be positive. I am keen to move on, to get into the workplace and to find a home for my daughter.

I am looking forward to putting my knowledge to good use and to fully participating in Irish society. I want my daughter to grow up seeing me be able to provide for her. Right now, I cannot even get her a simple present, everything we have is second hand.


I would like to say thank you to the supporters of DCU’s University of Sanctuary initiative. The opportunity of education is a lifelong gift. It goes beyond one person and changes an entire community around them. When I got my scholarship, it encouraged many of my friends to work hard and not to give up on themselves. A gift through the University of Sanctuary is a gift that lifts everyone.

The spirit of philanthropy shown by University of Sanctuary supporters has opened my eyes as a recipient. It has rubbed off on me too and it is something that I hope to be capable of reciprocating further down the line.”

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