A 20-YEAR-OLD Polish national, who has lived in Fermanagh for four years, has spoken of how she has been subjected to racial abuse in the county because of her nationality.
A physical fight on a night out for Ola Goldys, left her with the mindset: ‘I’m constantly aware that I’m different’.
Ola, originally from Warsaw, spent time living in the USA, describing how there ‘was never a problem’, however, when she moved to Enniskillen four years ago, she said she has been subjected to abuse on a regular basis.
“I just lower my head down,” Ola told the Fermanagh Herald.
“I try not to talk too much because I just hate being constantly aware that I’m different, I’m Polish, people might think this or that about me.”
The event that has really left the former Integrated College, and South West College pupil, badly shook up, came towards the end of last year.
She said, on a night out she passed a couple, and told the man that a part of his clothing had come undone.
“We went through the tunnel saw the couple there, I was trying to be nice telling him that his back was on show. But he basically said ‘F**k off, walk on,” she said.
“We were waiting for a lift. So we moved on a wee bit waiting on the lift. But they said to ‘get the hell out of there’.”
Ola said that when she began to speak, they released she wasn’t a local.
“They started asking me where I’m from, saying ‘you’re not from here, your accent is different’
“They said ‘Nobody f**king wants you here.You should pack up and leave. You’re taking our jobs.’
“There were a lot of harsh things said that I had never heard before.”
And it became violent.
“I was shoved and pushed around and she was screaming ‘We don’t want you here’, screaming one thing after the other about where I’m from.”
The terrifying incident left Ola thinking about what Fermangh people really thought about foreign nationals.
“I don’t speak Polish as well as I used to. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I went back to Poland.
“This is my place now with my family, I haven’t lived in Poland in ten years.”
Twenty five racial incidents in last two years:
Police statistics reveal a total of 25 racial incidents in the last two years.
And while the attack on Ola may not have been racially motivated, she said that it made her think very differently about the way others in Fermanagh view her.
“When people drink they’re pretty honest aren’t they? It brings out the worst in people sometimes. And these things didn’t come out of nowhere. They must have heard this or that was their genuine opinion on foreigners but they wouldn’t really say this when they’re sober. They’ll just keep their mouth shut, but when they have drink in the people show their true colours.
“That’s what I’ve been scared of, what people think about me, ever since then. I’m more aware of what people actually think but won’t say. I’m constantly aware that I’m different and people think of me differently but they’ll never say it to my face.”
Ola described how, when walking through Enniskillen, she keeps her head down. She said she is ‘sure other foreigners get the same’.
“I’ve a friend who gets a lot of it too. She was worried if her boyfriend’s parents would like her because she’s foreign.
“That’s the kind of concern we have. It’s a lot of stress. Our culture is different, our humour is a bit different – it’s a constant worry that we won’t be accepted.”
She concluded: “We’re coming here to have a better life, not to steal anything from anyone, it’s not like that at all. Some people think we’re taking everything away from them. The jobs, the benefits, it’s just ridiculous I think. I’ve met a lot of lovely people, but sometimes I think: ‘Do I want to stay here for the rest of my life’?”
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