To mark World Refugee Day we asked Gaisce Participant Tracey Sefu Zinyama about her Gaisce experience. Tracey is 21-years-old and originally from Harare, Zimbabwe. She came to Ireland when she was 15 with her mother and siblings.
Tracey initially heard about Gaisce in 2017 through a Foróige conference which she attended in Sligo. The programme appealed to her sense for adventure and interest in meeting the President of Ireland Michael D.Higgins. Tracey began her Bronze Award soon after this conference, taking up activities in three challenge areas: personal skill, physical recreation and community involvement.
Speaking about undertaking Gaisce, Tracey says, “I took an interest in playing the guitar and as a group we took on Horticulture and learnt about gardening, different plants and how to care for them. The Adventure Journey is my all-time favourite part of the Gaisce challenges because we got to do a bit of exploring and visit places that have amazing scenery”.
Tracey was presented with her Bronze Award by the President at a special ceremony in Mosney, Co. Meath in 2017. During the ceremony she delivered a speech on behalf of the 9 other awardees honoured. The group were praised by President Michael D. Higgins “for their courage and tenacity”.
Remembering that moment, she says, “My favourite memory definitely has to be that we were the first group to ever meet the President for our Bronze Award. Saying a speech in front of the President was nerve wrecking but very memorable.”
Since then, Tracey has progressed through the programme and completed her Silver Award, which she received last October during a ceremony at the Helix, DCU in Dublin. She took on new activities for Silver, training for a 5km run and exploring her interest in working with young people by volunteering as a leader with Foróige.
Tracey feels the programme has improved her self-esteem and health awareness, “Gaisce has definitely helped with confidence and taking on the 5km training definitely taught me about health. If not for the programme I would have never started the 5km challenge and would have never wanted to explore more into what being healthy really means. Gaisce has taught me about physical and mental health.”
She continues, “I have always had an interest in music but I wouldn’t have decided to take on instruments and Gaisce allowed me to”.
One of the things Tracey liked about the programme was the sense of community she felt, “Being an immigrant did not affect my Gaisce goals. I was able to do what I wanted and felt like I was part of the bigger community. I had the same experience as everyone else. I have already registered for my Gold and I will be taking on greater and bigger things to better myself and the community.”
Tracey is currently pursuing her Gaisce Gold Award.
Want to get involved in Gaisce?
If you are involved in an organisation that supports young people who are seeking asylum or have refugee status, email email@example.com to find out more about delivering the Gaisce programme in your organisation. As part of Gaisce’s Wavelength programme, fees have been waived for participants.