independent

Thursday 23 October 2014

Student Tara Scully returns from volunteering in Haiti

Margaret Roddy

Published 23/08/2014 | 00:00

Tara Scully from Rathmount with some of the local children in Haiti

BLACKROCK student Tara Scully has returned from a month in Haiti with UCD Volunteering Overseas.

The twenty-year-old arts student from Rathmount was one of a group of 23 students who travelled to Haiti in July to work on a number of projects including running a summer camp for primary school children, introducing computers in a school and building classrooms.

They were based in the Gros Morne region in north-west Haiti where UCDVO has been working alongside two missionary sisters, Sr. Patricia Dillon and Sr. Jackie Picard from the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) since 2005.

'The thing that struck me most is how happy the children are, even though they have very little. They are always laughing and smiling and were eager to learn,' says Tara.

She was also impressed by how much emphasis is placed on education, with children from rural villages getting up early so they could do the hour and a half walk to camp each morning.

'We spent the mornings teaching the children in the summer camp, doing English, Maths, arts and crafts etc. At the end of the month, a concert was staged for the parents and I taught my pupils 'The Bare Neccessities' which was great fun.'

'This was the biggest camp ever and was attended by 700 children,' she explained. 'UCDVO also distributed 29,000 meals to the children during the time we were there, making sure that they got one highly nutricitional meal during the day.'

'In the afternoon we worked on the construction of two classrooms for a rural school,' she continued.

'The other project we worked was the introduction of computers to a school. One of the team leaders went to Haiti before we did to oversee the installation of solar panels which provide electricity to a village for the first time. This means that students who couldn't study after dark are now going out and doing their homework under the street lamps.'

Tara and the other volunteers also showed teachers how to use the computers and to do research on the internet.

' They were able to look up stories and photos of the terrible quake which struck Haiti in 2010. The area we were in wasn't affected by the quake and they had never seen the damage which it had caused.'

'It's hoped that these teachers will be able to show the teachers in the new school how to use computers and that the project will become self-sufficient in a few years.'

Despite living in basic accommodation, with no television or wi-fi, and only a few hours electricity each evening, Tara says she would love to return to Haiti as a team leader with UCD VO to see how all those she met, especially the children, are getting on.

She is particularly grateful to all the businesses and sports club who donated supplies to bring over to Haiti, Oriel Office Supplies, Smyths Toystore, Boyds, Don Keating, and Brian Cafferty from the Geraldines GFC.

'I'd also like to thank the Clermont Arms for allowing me to hold the table quiz back in January and the many businesses who donated cash and spot prizes for the raffle, and everyone who attended the quiz and all those who donated through the bucket collections and made personal or online donations. I would also like to thank my friends and family who helped me organise the fundraisers'.

The Argus

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