An asylum seeker living in Borrisokane has just published his first book, in which he draws on his life experience to help guide others on their journey.
Hashmet Dilawer Khan has been based in Borrisokane with his wife and four young children since December 2019. Born and raised in South Africa, he has also lived and worked in South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Oman as a teacher in schools and universities, religious institutions. and in a training center of an oil company.
Having now found their way to Ireland, Hashmet and his wife Galeema are teaching English to other asylum seekers. They were sent to live in a hotel in Co Monaghan for three months before being transferred to Borrisokane. There was no school available, so Hashmet and Galeema began teaching the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic to the children in their group.
Today, Hashmet, who also runs weekly Muslim prayer services in Nenagh, offers life coaching classes based on a course he took previously.
“We were trying to be an asset rather than the preconceived notion that asylum seekers were a burden on the system,” Hashmet said of his efforts and those of his wife. And he found their efforts appreciated in his new home, where Hashmet and his family have settled in rather well, despite the problems of the Covid-19 pandemic that followed so soon after their arrival. The family particularly loves Borrisokane Park.
“So far it has been a positive experience – 90% positive,” Hashmet said of his adjustment to life in Ireland. “Every situation has its ups and downs, but I think if you stay within the parameters of society, if you try to contribute in a way other than – and it seems a little harsh, but – getting rid of the system. all the time, then you will be received in a more positive light. The perception will be different rather than if you don’t try at all. It has been my personal experience so far.
“What I like about the Irish is that the people are simple. Most of the time, what you see is what you get. I prefer this because there is no illusion and you know exactly where you are.
While he had no choice as to where he would live in this country, Hashmet said he chose to come to Ireland in large part because he felt an affinity with its history. This is, he said, particularly confirmed by the local solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Hashmet spoke at length about the hardships of life in South Africa, including a 40% unemployment rate as well as escalating violent crime and widespread child abduction. Fearing mainly for their children (aged 9 to 3), Hashmet and his wife came here in search of a safer new beginning.
And in doing so, they have found the time to write books that have long been in the making, and with which they hope to use their experiences for the benefit of others. Galeema, who trained in domestic violence counseling and volunteered in South Africa as a rape worker, recently wrote a book on relationships. This inspired Hashmet to take up his pen and finally publish a book that is in many ways the culmination of his multi-year “transformative journey”.
Entitled “Transcending Your Now: Leaving Your Reality”, Hashmet’s debut book is also a testament to his attempt to make a positive contribution to society.
“It’s about taking the cards that have been dealt to you and, instead of complaining, making the most of what you have been given and trying to maximize your potential and your situation,” Hashment explained to about his book. “These are basically the steps I have taken to achieve what I have so far.”
The book has four chapters, at the end of which are introspective questions for readers to ask themselves. It encourages readers to take stock of where they are in life with tips, for example, for making good habits in our daily routines; healthy eating, and even the people we are in company with.
While emphasizing that his book is not a “step-by-step manual,” Hashmet believes that “transcending your present” will prove to be beneficial for individuals in most circumstances and could even extend to corporate uses. But perhaps its greatest use will be derived by students in schools and universities, many of whom have lost their focus and, according to Hashmet, need encouragement to realize their full potential.
“They need guidance to try to stay motivated and achieve their goals,” he observed. “That’s what I talk about in the book – take what you have and maximize those factors and your own natural potential to achieve what you want, and have clearly defined goals in the first place.
“Because young people – whether I am in Saudi Arabia, Oman, South Africa, Ireland – it seems the same to me: they need to be motivated. They sometimes lack ambition, due to various factors, so you have to remind them of what exists. Because when I talk to young people here … they keep saying, ‘oh, I want to be a hairdresser, I want to be a makeup artist, a barber’; which is great! But how many barbers do we need? With all the opportunities that are available here, the sky is the limit.
Hashmet hopes to be granted asylum in Ireland so that he too can maximize his potential and make a greater contribution to society. He is currently focusing his energies on studying for an MBA and intends to write another book later.