Family living in Cork direct provision hand out 2,000 face masks to public

Family living in Cork direct provision hand out 2,000 face masks to public

Raminder Singh with his family, wife Harinder, daughter Sandeep and son Gurcharan distribute free face masks on Patrick’s St. Cork. The family live in Direct Provision and have distributed over 2000 free face masks which they have made

A family living in direct provision in Cork took to the streets of the city on Sunday to give out 500 free face masks bringing to 2,000 the number of coverings they have donated to the public during the pandemic.

The Singh family, who live in the Kinsale Road accommodation centre in Cork, say that making the masks is about "giving back" to a country they arrived in from India three years ago.

They also give out masks for free in the accommodation centre they live in which houses 300 people.

Raminder Singh, his wife Harinder Kaur and their three children Sandeep (21) Gursewak (19) and Gurcharan (17) have settled well in Ireland since their arrival.

Sandeep has completed training as a beautician firstly in St John's College and then in the Cork Training Centre in Bishopstown.

Gurcharan is a student at Colaiste Chriost Rí and plays cricket with KRAC 11 and Cork County cricket team.

Gurcharan would like to play cricket for Ireland as an adult and is considered to be a promising young talent.

Gursewak is a talented musician who plays with the Citadel band.

Raminder says the core belief of the Sikh religion is engaging in Seva. This is service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for performing it.

"We are very happy in Ireland. We like this country and Irish people. My wife and daughter make the masks. Everyone helps. This is our fourth time giving out masks (in the city centre).

Raminder Singh with his family, wife Harinder, daughter Sandeep and son Gurcharan distribute free face masks on Patrick’s St. Cork. The family live in Direct Provision and have distributed over 2000 free face masks which they have made
Raminder Singh with his family, wife Harinder, daughter Sandeep and son Gurcharan distribute free face masks on Patrick’s St. Cork. The family live in Direct Provision and have distributed over 2000 free face masks which they have made

Irish people are very supportive. My Sikh religion is that if you can help you help.” Raminder says the family experienced anxiety recently when two people tested positive for the virus in the centre. A further two close contacts of the infected persons had to isolate.

“People were diagnosed (with Covid in the centre). Everyone in my family has been tested. Three times we have checked. We have 300 people here."

The family were refused the right to live in Ireland in January and have lodged an appeal. They are seeking asylum on religious and political grounds.

Raminder states that his wife Harinder is very nervous about their situation. They are in despair at the thought of leaving a country that has become their home.

"We don't know what is going to happen. My wife is very depressed. We would like to stay."

Sandeep would like to open her own beauty salon in Cork.

"I have completed my training now and am just waiting on my certificate. I will then apply for a job. I did one year of training first in India. And then three years in St John's College and in Bishopstown."

The family never sought publicity for their altruism. It became public when a lady who received a free mask took to Twitter commending the Singh family for their efforts.

Sandeep says the family worry about the coronavirus because everyone lives in such close proximity to each other in the direct provision centre.

She adds that when they first started giving out the masks in Patrick Street it took four to five hours for the 500 masks to be distributed.

"Now they are gone in one to two hours. Today we will have given away a total of 2,000. People do come up to talk and they ask why we are giving them away for free.” 

 Raminder admits members of the public often express confusion that they aren't making money from the masks.

"People say 'why aren't you making money?' and I say ‘well in my religion we help people for free.’ My thinking is that we have to keep everyone safe in Ireland."

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