Five alive: Jerry joins smiling scrum
HE has scaled rugby's heights, helping to secure the Grand Slam and two Heineken Cups.
Now retired Munster and Ireland rugby star Jerry Flannery has spoken of his life-changing trip to east Africa to see the work of an Irish charity.
Injury forced the retirement last year of the hooker who won 41 caps. But he got a chance to show off his ball skills with school children during a visit to Dodoma in Tanzania during his recent trip to World Vision Ireland's programme there.
"The sad thing is, though, the children I played with have less of a chance of surviving to their fifth birthday," he said.
"They die from something as simple as a tummy bug because they don't have access to clean water and because their bodies are weak from not having enough food."
World Vision Ireland's Survive to Five campaign is aiming to give children like the ones he met in Tanzania a new chance in life by ensuring they have access to clean water and by supporting their parents to grow healthy food.
He said when he first arrived, the children were shy and quiet, wondering who this "strange-looking" white man was.
"But once I started to play with them they began to smile and laugh and fool around just like any group of kids in Ireland," he said.
"The people I met in Tanzania were inspiring. They don't want a handout, just a hand up and they use a small amount of money to change their lives."
For more on the Survive to Five campaign go to www.worldvision.ie