As most of you know the last few days we have been working on the artwork for the “Welcome to Roscommon” movements wall to welcome the Syrian refugees soon to arrive in the local community.
Yesterday we were absolutely privileged to be part of the group of volunteers, attending the public’s chance to add their messages to the wall in Duffy’s Supervalu, Ballaghaderreen. We came to the event feeling a bit subdued as we had experienced a few negative comments on social media. According to some people we are blow-ins who should not meddle in Irish affairs, and it was suggested that the “Welcome to Roscommon” movement doesn’t have the backing of the local community.
After only a short time we realized that the sentiments in those social media comments were far removed from the truth. The wall quickly began to fill up with the most beautiful messages of love and welcome. A few people walked past without wishing to sign but the response was overwhelmingly positive.
At the end of the day, all the spaces were taken and there were approximately 180 messages written on the wall. When we did the maths we realized that a message from a person, family, local business or organization had been added on average every 2 minutes and 20 seconds throughout the entire seven hours!
Many people talked about how they were looking forward to having the refugees living in the town and spoke of inclusion, friendship and support.
We came away feeling very happy in the knowledge that the Syrians arriving early next month are already causing a stir in the local community. Not one of distrust, negativity and fear but one of hope, love and compassion. We are very grateful to be part of the “Welcome to Roscommon” movement and of the local and wider community who showed their true colours yesterday. We should all be proud. It was incredible to see the wall transforming over the day, from a blank canvas to a manifestation of love.
You can read about the creation of the artwork here.