Labour Party TD Dominic Hannigan is to volunteer in the Philippines this summer with leading development charity, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).
The Meath East Dail deputy will be participating in VSO's 'Politicians for Development Programme' in which Irish government representatives volunteer during the summer recess.
Deputy Hannigan is an experienced business consultant and engineer and will be placed as an advocacy adviser with an organisation that works to build peace across divided communities in the Philippines. He will be sharing experiences from the Irish peace process, as he was recently made chair of the Committee for the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
This will be the local politician's third time volunteering with VSO. In 2008, he worked as a business management adviser in Mongolia, while in 2010 he worked as an advocacy adviser with Nepalese civil rights organisation, Blue Diamond Society.
"I was delighted to have recently been appointed as chairman of the Good Friday Agreement Committee. So now, to take Irish learning to the Philippines, will be a great opportunity. Working with Filipino peace-builders will be insightful. There are mny things we can learn from other communities internationally, something VSO promotes," he said.
Another Meath resident, Carmel Bradwell, is a serial VSO volunteer. She is a special needs teacher from Navan and is on her second volunteer assignment with VSO in Uganda.
A retired teacher aged 59, she is the focus of VSO's door-to-door fundraising drive which has been taking place nationwide since 2010, whereby people can sponsor a volunteer in the field.
Speaking of her work in Fort Portal, western Uganda, Ms Bradwell said: "The children I work with in western Uganda are absolutely amazing. They are happy and smiling. The fact that you come to their school to help train the teachers fills them full of joy and they become your friend. I am the luckiest person in the world as I have so many friends who greet me everywhere in Uganda with a big smile and who want to be around me."
She is working in Canon Apollo College, training primary school teachers to improve their teaching skills.
Years of conflict and underfunding have left the education system in Uganda extremely weak. As a result of this, many Ugandan teachers have had very little schooling or teacher training. Consequently, they are often unable to provide even a basic education to Ugandan children.
Malcolm Quigley, Director of VSO Ireland, is eager to promote sharing of learning and expertise between Ireland and other countries. "VSO works with grassroots organisations who have specifically asked for help with campaigning and lobbying. I believe Deputy Hannigan and volunteers like Carmel can add value plus bring back learning to Ireland. We now live in an inter-dependant world and we can foster knowledge brokering between different communities," he added.
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