News & Updates

University of Sanctuary Event: Building Bridges: Building Agency

18 Feb 2021

Hosted by the University of Sanctuary Working Group as part of UCC Refugee Week, this event brings together three community-based migrant organisations who are working alongside migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum in Ireland. They showcases the important work and activities their organisations are engaged in, promoting the inclusion and integration of migrants.

WHEN:  12.30-2.30pm Thursday 25 February 2021 

Click here to join the meeting

The rights-based and innovative approaches adopted by these organisations are considered highly significant in understanding and unlocking the valuable contribution that migrants can make to Irish society.  The webinar will act as a space for knowledge-sharing and creating avenues for sustainable solutions, while also promoting the building of connections and stronger networks of solidarity between the university and the wider community.  The discussion will be Chaired by Dr Piaras Mac Éinrí, Department of Geography at UCC. 

Rethinking Community Engagement with Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrants 

Dr Naomi Masheti: Cork Migrant Centre  

Naomi will highlight how the issue of transformative activism must be key to community engagement.  Within this context, she believes that the decolonization of community work with asylum seekers, refugees and migrants is key to shifting community work from a more traditional charity-based to a more rights—based approach that includes the voices of the vulnerable and emphasises a ‘nothing about me without me’ approach.  Within this context, she argues that even ‘well-meaning intentions’ must be questioned, most specifically when these voices of those most marginalised are absent and avenues to participation, agency and deliberation are denied.  Dr Naomi Masheti is a Psychologist and Program Coordinator at Cork Migrant Centre.

Achieving inclusion in innovation through embracing the participation of migrants 

Dina Vyapuri - Purplunicorn  

Acknowledging the need to shift perceptions, the talk explores migrant potential and possibilities through embracing the valuable contribution of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to broader society.  Dina promotes an understanding of integration which questions how we view displaced migrants and proposes that rather than view migrants refugees and asylum seekers as a burden on state resources, we make a conscious shift towards achieving inclusion and integration through a focus on the neglected potential contribution of asylum seekers, refugees migrants. Within this context, providing opportunities for full inclusion is viewed as an integral part of achieving migrant integration, creating alternatives and embracing new possibilities for an inclusive Ireland that leaves no one behind. Dina Vyapuri is the founder & CEO of Purpl Unicorn. The organisation’s mission is to empower displaced migrants through lifelong learning for better employability.

Building Bridges from Within 

Roos Demol: Recruit Refugees Ireland 

This presentation will examine the activities that Roos is involved in, emphasising the importance of involving refugees themselves in decision-making processes and negotiations with local communities. Her presentation will focus on why she developed certain activities, and what this has meant for building personal relationships with residents within the direct provision (DP)centres. Roos will also address some of the challenges that can occur in developing initiatives and put forward some recommendations in relation to policy implementation and the importance of involving residents of Direct Provision in order to integrate people into their local communities, most specifically in the employment sector.  Roos Demol is a Flemish woman now living in Cork, who is CEO of the grassroots organisation International Community Dynamics. Roos started this organisation with Norbert Nkengutse and Albert Hakizimana, both who are refugees. 



Welcome: Dr Claire Dorrity (School of Applied Social Studies) 

Opening Remarks: Dr Martin Galvin (UCC Civic and Community Engagement Officer, National Campus Engage Initiative of the Irish Universities Association) 

Chair and Discussion Facilitator: Dr Piaras Mac Éinrí (Department of Geography) 

Presenter 1: Dr Naomi Masheti -Cork Migrant Centre 

Presenter 2: Dina Vyapuri -Purplunicorn  

Presenter 3: Roos Demol – Recruit Refugees Ireland 



Dr Naomi Masheti is a Psychologist and Program Coordinator at Cork Migrant Centre. She is a three-time graduate of UCC; she holds a BA in Applied Psychology (2007), an MA in Forensic Psychology (2008) and a PhD specialising in the Psychosocial Wellbeing of Sub-Saharan African Migrant Children (2015). Originally from Kenya, Dr Masheti has been living in Cork since 2001. She has developed culturally sensitive training programs for front line service providers, delivered to UCC BSW and Psychology programmes and UCD Clinical Psychology program.  As a direct result of her PhD, Naomi was instrumental in setting up the Cork Migrant Centre Psychosocial Wellbeing and Integration Hub at Nano Nagle Place, Cork.  This initiative is based on the ‘Culturally-informed Psychosocial Model of Health & Wellbeing’ used in humanitarian settings. It is premised on the creation of a ‘safe place’ where migrant families, including children and youth, can engage in psychosocial wellbeing and integration-promoting activities, targeting individual, social and cultural functioning. In shaping her vision of bringing about transformative change to migrant communities, Naomi has engaged in partnerships with UCC School of Psychology, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Unit, Alumni & Development, the Glucksman Gallery and UCC societies such as Netsoc (UCC) and Failte Refugees. Through her work, Naomi became a recipient of UCC’s Athena SWAN Equality Award. 

Dina Vyapuri is the founder & CEO of Purpl Unicorn. The organisation’s mission is to empower displaced migrants through lifelong learning for better employability.  Purpl Unicorn works closely with businesses to help them identify opportunities to help migrants and refugees through up-skilling training programs. This initiative is centred on developing and implementing tangible training plans to support migrants to enter employment.  Dina is also the co-founder of CyberWomenIreland, an initiative which encourages the participation of women in the field of cyber security.  This included the establishment of the Cyber4Women pilot project, focused on up-skilling migrant women in cyber security. Dina’s vision is embedded in the principle that companies have the greatest impact when they embrace migrants as economically productive professionals. 

Roos Demol is a Flemish woman now living in Cork, who is CEO of the grassroots organisation International Community Dynamics. Roos started this organisation with Norbert Nkengutse and Albert Hakizimana, both who are refugees.  Together they recognised the impact that music has on promoting inclusion and diversity within the community. Working with residents of Direct Provision, they have since developed the world music band, Citadel and the cricket Team KRAC 11 with the residents of the Kinsale Road Accommodation Centre. Roos has been a very active member of the Cork City of Sanctuary Movement and continues to offer support and guidance to refugees and international protection applicants. Her most recent project has been in setting up Recruit Refugees Ireland.  This initiative is a social enterprise under the ICD (International College Dublin) umbrella. The project aims to connect refugees and residents of DP centres to the right jobs, through collaboration with other organisations.  Its aim is to ensure every candidate is job ready and aligned with a job in their chosen area. Despite the many challenges, Roos has continued to provide support and assistance to residents of the system of Direct Provision throughout the pandemic.  


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This event is organised by Dr Claire Dorrity, School of Applied Social Studies and Dr Piaras Mac Éinrí, Department of Geography, as part of UCC Refugee Week which takes place from the 22nd to the 27th February 2021.


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