I moved to Dublin in 2016 as an exchange student, looking to have a new experience. I decided to leave Brazil for the first time to go to an unknown country because I wanted to learn English.

When I arrived in Ireland, I had no easy days like many other migrants. Applying for a visa, opening a bank account, and finding a place to live.

After that, the battle began to find a job. As I did not speak English, I started to work as a cleaner and childminder, so I was able to pay for my rent and food.

My family always gave me a lot of support in my choices but they could only support me financially at the beginning, so I had to start fending for myself.

After six months here I decided to return to Brazil. But when I arrived, I realised that it was no longer my home.

My heart and mind were always thinking of going home, to Ireland. After a year in Brazil I decided that it really was no longer my place and I would do my best to return to Ireland and start over.

I applied for Italian citizenship, since my father has Italian descent. It would give me an easier access to Europe, but would not guarantee an easy life.

So I came back to start a new life here, working as a childminder while I decided what I should do to have a better future, what opportunities I could have.

Talking to a friend, who I met in 2016 and was studying to be a Healthcare Assistant, she gave me tips and encouraged me to go after courses.

That is when I decided that as I love the care area and I was loving taking care of children, why not take a next step in the care area?

That’s when I discovered that there was an opportunity for migrant women to study a QQI Level5 Healthcare Assistant course and I contacted MRCI, filled out all the forms and got a place in April 2020.

Who would have thought that we would be in the middle of a pandemic right then? I can say that this pandemic has not brought too many good things. But I took the opportunity to stay at home and study.

I dedicated all my free time to my assignments. Studying online may not be easy, but in times of coronavirus it was the best choice to delve into getting knowledge, to grow as a person, to learn to spend my time studying, working on self-care.

This last October I got my first job as a Healthcare Assistant. They gave me the opportunity to show that I could already put my learning into practice and I am loving every day to have a new challenge. This work has shown me how much trust and love for others can make those who need care feel more confident.

For the future, I am hopeful of achieving my goals, to work in a hospital, have a career, and follow my passion. Together with my classmates, course tutors and the MRCI team I know that this will be possible. The first step they have already given me: the opportunity.

And I am extremely grateful, since the life of a migrant is not easy and studying in another language can be even more difficult. But with all the support I got, this was possible.

We are reaching the end of the course and I see myself graduating in a few months with a bright future ahead.

By Damaris Silva