Monday 26 February 2018

A life-changing trip for Sligo scientist

John O’Dea in a science lab workshop with Cambodian teachers.
John O’Dea in a science lab workshop with Cambodian teachers.

Harry Keaney

A 'LIFE-CHANGING experience.' That's how Sligo scientist John O'Dea described the six months he spent in Cambodia as a volunteer.

He said: "I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge that a new job and a new country will bring."

A well-known arts enthusiast and former IT lecturer, John was in Mondul Kiri in eastern Cambodia.

He worked as a science laboratory specialist in a number of secondary schools.

He explained: "They did no practical work in the schools.

"The idea was to promote things like science and computer laboratories.

"I was in a remote hilly area near the border with Vietnam. They needed somebody to come in and set up labs, write practical manuals like experiment books, and train teachers to do the experiments."

It's not the first time John has volunteered abroad.

He worked in Africa more than 30 years ago before he came to Sligo.

He said: "I retired and had quite a bit of energy. When the opportunity arose to go to Cambodia, I said I'd give it a chance."

John, a native of Roscommon Town, has worked in the environmental science department of IT Sligo for over 25 years.

He was a founding member of the Sligo Arts Festival in the 1980s.

In recent times, he had worked closely with the Sligo Youth Theatre Company.

Executive Director of Voluntary Services Overseas Ireland, Malcolm Quigley said: "VSO needs motivated people like John to volunteer overseas.

"Things we take for granted, like health and education, are hard to access for marginalised people.

"John's work has continued on long after he returned home.

"By volunteering with VSO, thousands of skilled professionals help train thousands of others who will help millions of people over the coming years."

VSO is urgently seeking more volunteers, particularly doctors, nurses, teachers, principals and community Development workers.

Volunteers must have a degree and a minimum of five years experience. Placements last from six months to two years.

Sligo Champion

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