'Missionary nun inspired me to go and help'
Helen Sherry (right) spent two years in Nigeria as a volunteer teacher and says she learned as much as she gave.
As an 11-year-old, Helen (30) was inspired to work in a developing country by a missionary nun.
"I was intrigued about it and I always said I would go and help," she says, but then it took years to pluck up the courage."
After qualifying as a primary teacher, Helen worked for a few years at St Patrick's National School in Ringsend, Dublin, before heading off to Zambia for the summer of 2005.
On her return, Helen, from Dundalk, Co Louth, applied to the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO), and, in 2006, she went to Nigeria for two years.
Helen says she can understand why in the current climate people might be fearful about leaving a post to go overseas, but that jobs and pensions are protected on career breaks.
She is now home school liaison teacher in St Patrick's National School in Ringsend, Dublin, but with VSO expanding into education in South America, Helen says "it is one of the reasons why I would consider volunteering again".