Health care workers in Ireland are being deported in the middle of a pandemic.
Lily was on her lunch break at the nursing home in Dublin, where she works, when a friend called to hear that an official-looking letter had arrived for her.
She asked her friend to open it and read it.
You are no longer allowed to stay in the state and must now voluntarily return to your country of origin or be deported, “read the letter from the Irish Department of Justice and Equality. She had five days to inform the authorities about her Decision.
A flood of emotion streamed toward her through the layers of her protective gear. Lily said she wanted to cry but pushed the tears back in.
“I had to stay strong for the residents,” she said. “So I put on a smile, but deep down it was incredibly painful.”
Lily – whose name was changed for her safety – said she fled the persecution of LGBTQ people in her home, Zimbabwe, and came to Ireland in 2016.
She wanted to help others, so she was studying to qualify as a health worker. She got a nursing home job last year and hopes to study nursing for her degree in the future.
She worked in the nursing home throughout the coronavirus pandemic and only took three weeks off when she contracted the virus herself in April.
Just before the pandemic began, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization reported that Ireland has the highest rate of Covid-19 infection among healthcare workers in Europe.
After she recovered, Lily returned to work. In the months that followed, she said she watched the disease take the lives of some of the elderly residents she cared for.
“So many people died. It was unbearable,” she said.
Now that the deportation is imminent, Lily feels like she is facing something resembling her own death sentence.
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