Brother Kevin Mascarenhas, a native of Pakistan, is the Director of the Information and Support Unit (ISU) at Mount Sion in Waterford.
The ISU has been responding to the needs of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants since 2006. To date over 2,500 non-Irish nationals from 50 different countries have made use of the services of the ISU.
During her visit to the ISU in November 2006, President Mary McAleese said, “It is not so much what we do but the céad míle fáilte or welcome that we extend to the new communities in Waterford that will make the difference to the quality of the work of the ISU”.
Edmund Rice’s first outreach was to two Non Irish nationals – “Black Johnny” and Biaconi.
Black Johnny was a Slave on a ship and was being maltreated by the Captain. Edmund Rice purchased his release and brought him in and taught him English and then set him up in business.
Bianconi was an Italian who only had one word “Buy”. Edmund Rice supported him and gave him an education and set him up in business. If Edmund Rice was walking the streets of Waterford, we can be fairly sure that he would be doing the work of the ISU.
In addition to his many other works of charity, Blessed Edmund Rice reached out immigrants 200 years ago. That tradition continues.
The ISU is providing a wide variety of information including the asylum process, Employment Law and legal advice.
We are also providing English classes to 40 to 50 refugees through Integrate Ireland English Language.We are also providing English Classes to 15 to 20 Asylum seekers through Volunteer Teachers. These English Language have helped the refugees and asylum seekers in getting through difficulties in Language which is very important for them to survive, Integrate and get work in Ireland. They are able to converse better with Irish people.
The Information and Support Unit for New Communities is providing Information and Support in following areas:
- Refugee Legal Service
- English Language classes
- Literacy Supports
- Computer Skills
- Library activities
- Community Based integrated health programmes
- Art and Drama Classes and exhibitions
- Teenage Integration programme
- Monthly information sessions
- Housing advocacy
- Social and cultural activities
- Capacity building and self advocacy
- Anti – racism training and forum
Brother Kevin Mascarenhas, Director ISU, Mount Sion, Barrack St, Waterford.
Tel: 051-852564 / 087-9128166