Friday 18 April 2014

Rugby star Paul O’Connell waves off Haiti volunteers at airport

Fao; Picture Desk 23rd Nov 2012Bidding farewell to Haven Volunteers were International Rugby Star Paul OÕConnell and Founder of Haven Leslie Buckley. The Irish volunteers equipped with humanitarian supplies and high spirits set off from Dublin airport on what will be an experience of a life time. The volunteers will spend a week working in scorching conditions to build 100 houses for the people of Logne with Ex-President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter; country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Pictured at Dublin Airport with George Hook and Irish Rugby International Paul O' Connell from left, James Codd, from Foxrock, Caroline Keyes, from Laois, John Paul McErlean from Derry Lesley Buckley, Founder of Haven Charity and Dawn Nolan from Kilkenny. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells Fennells

Rugby star Paul O'Connell waved off a group of 67 volunteers this morning as they set off for Haiti to help build houses for an Irish charity working in partnership with former US President Jimmy Carter.

The volunteers will be working with the Haven, which has teamed up with Mr Carter’s group, Habitat for Humanity.

Paul O'Connell is an ambassador for Haven.

The volunteers will be joined during the week by husband and wife country singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

Haven and Habitat for Humanity hope to build 100 houses over seven days in Leogane, a town south of Port-au-Prince that was devastated by the 2010 earthquake.

Over 80pc of buildings in Leogane were damaged or destroyed as a result of the earthquake, and tens of thousands of people were left homeless or displaced.

The town was also flooded recently during Hurricane Sandy.

As the Irish volunteers set off from Dublin Airport, Paul O'Connell said: “The difference that Haven volunteers have made in Leogane is incredible.

People in Leogane lost everything during the earthquake and it is great to see just ordinary Irish people empathise with their plight.”

This is the second phase of the housing project in the area Last year the two charities built 155 houses nearby.

Haven was set up in 2008 by businessman Leslie Buckley and his wife Carmel.

Mr Buckley is chairman of Independent News & Media.

Since it began its work in Haiti in 2009, the charity has built or repaired homes for 12,000 people.

It is also providing water and sanitation for 80,000 people.

Jimmy Carter (88), who served as US President for four years from 1977 to 1981, will be on site for Build-It-Week in Leogane.

The volunteers will live in tents for the week.

Haven’s chief executive Orla Gilroy said yesterday: “We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our volunteers and the Irish public who not only donate their time but raise funds to support this vital work.”

* Haven is seeking donations to fund its work in Haiti.

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