Originally from Mongolia, Gonchigkhand's dream is to be a social worker here in Ireland and contribute to Irish society. In 2020 she took part in our Migrant Leadership Academy.
My name is Gonchigkhand Byambaa. I came to Ireland in December 2016 from Mongolia.
I’ve always been passionate about human rights and community work. I was a social worker in Mongolia and it’s always been my dream job. Since arriving in Ireland, I’ve been trying to get into the Irish education system and become a social worker. I’ve made some progress and I’m working towards my goals slowly but surely.
My life in Ireland had a rocky start. I quickly realized that my education and experience were not recognized in the Irish education system or working world. I needed to restart my career and rebuild myself here. It’s been an interesting and rewarding journey.
In April 2017 I suddenly lost my Mam and then my Dad. They were both gone within 6 months. I was stunned by this double loss. At that time, I was trying to get my re-entry visa.
My people are nomadic and, in our culture, we don't keep our loved one’s body for very long after their death. I didn't have a chance to say my final goodbye to either my Mam or my Dad. I simply didn’t have enough time to go back to the Mongolian countryside.
It hit me so hard. In that time, I knew I needed to mind my mental health, so I decided to go hiking and meet new people and to do some volunteering work in Ireland. Hiking saved my life. I feel very close to nature and Ireland is blessed with so much natural beauty.
Because of my experience when my parents died, I have a great fear every time I meet someone undocumented in Ireland. The fear that they may have to go through the same thing I did. The fear that because they don’t have a document, they won’t have the chance to kiss their loved ones goodbye. It is a very sad and unspeakable pain.
People no longer need to apply for re-entry visas in Ireland. When I heard this decision, I told myself “Thank God fewer people will have to experience what I went through.”. It’s a very heartbreaking thing to happen when children cannot say their final goodbye to their parents.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank The Immigration Council of Ireland, human rights activists and policy and decision makers that have helped so many people. They have removed a huge amount of stress from thousands of people’s shoulders. Thank you.
I needed to deal with my grief in a different culture and another language. It was hard but I made it through because I got enormous support from so many strangers both Irish and Mongolian. These people went on to become my family and friends. I’m grateful to the people of Ireland and their hospitality. Without your warm Irish culture it would have been a very different story.
I didn’t want to stop my volunteering and community work in Ireland. So I started a blog for Mongolians in Ireland about life in Ireland. I also decided to join a campaign for undocumented people. I encouraged Mongolians to join this campaign and other projects like it because by doing so will help us to connect more into Irish society.
I took the Migrant Leadership Academy course because I believe Education and self-improvement are my personal and professional responsibilities. I learned a lot and I received the support that I needed. I’m very thankful for this course. I’ve met wonderful leaders and like-minded people.
I would love to contribute to the Irish society which helped me during the most emotionally difficult time in my life. I want to thank them by helping however I can.
That’s why I do community work. That’s what I’ll do in the future as well.