Sammy Khalid was born in Saudi Arabia to parents who were not from there. His father was from a small village in Sudan, and while his mother was also from a small village, hers was about 10,000 km east in the Philippines. Saudi Arabia was just the place where his parents met and had him. Both his parents worked in a hospital there and fell in love while they worked alongside one another treating patients. He spent his first year with his parents living and working on hospital grounds. Because there was no such thing as childcare over there so he was a ‘working baby’ or that’s how his mother describes it. He went with them to the hospital every day where he would get passed around between the nurses or happily greet people from his cot they had set up.
When he was 14 months old, Sammy’s parents had to make the difficult decision to send him to his grandparents so that they could raise him in the Philippines. This was due to the war that was going on in Kuwait. His parents felt like it was the safest option for him. Not only would it provide him with an opportunity to live a more ‘normal’ childhood outside of hospital grounds, but it would also give him some great memories. And that is actually pretty true. Till the age of five, Sammy spent his youngest years in the Philippines and he has some of the most amazing memories of that place. He is quite sure that these memories have played an important role in shaping the person that he is today. Furthermore, the Philippines was also the place where he gained a second set of parents in the form of his grandparents who instilled the importance of family in him.
By the time he turned five, his parents had finally worked and saved enough money to migrate to another country. Somewhere where the grass was possibly greener, and so they chose one of the greenest, the Emerald Isle of Ireland. His first impressions of this place weren’t very romantic though. He thought it was grey and dull and cold compared to the tropics, thus making it quite a difficult transition initially. Sammy had to cope up with a lot of changes; a new language, a new school, and the introduction of a new religion from his father’s side.
Due to all these major changes, he was missing out on the wonderful things that Ireland had to offer; the people, the culture, and the scenic places. The Muslim bubble that he lived in resulted in Sammy being completely sheltered from the Irish culture and its people during the first few years of living there. He was in a Muslim school and all he knew were Muslim people. However, when time came for him to attend secondary school, he went to an all-boys catholic Rugby school and was thrown into a situation where he was very different from all his peers. Although this was very frightening, Sammy was lucky that he was there with his best friend who was also Sudanese.
Just like all secondary schools, it was a dog eat dog world, and being different could make you a target. However, being able to withstand the abuse gained you respect amongst other dudes. And in reality, everyone got to face some abuse, but it was how you dealt with it that decided your fate. Sammy believes that it was secondary school where he learned how to deal with other men and also made some of the best friends that he has to this day. Although he had a rough and challenging start in Ireland, he grew to fall in love with the country and its people, and formed a part of his Irish identity.