A PRIMARY school teacher from Ardara will travel to Belarus this week to volunteer at an orphanage for children and adults.
Carol Ní Bhreisleáin will travel over to the Gorodishche orphanage on August 11 to spend a week volunteering with the Burren Chernobyl Project, a charity which was set up in 1993 to help with the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Carol will travel with her friend Laura Nic Uilliam from County Offaly who she met while living in Abu Dhabi for two years. While in Abu Dhabi Carol travelled to Vietnam and Cambodia and visited the Christina Noble Foundation. It was this experience that inspired her to want to do volunteer work.
“I always wanted to do volunteer work, it is close to my heart. When I visited the Christina Noble Foundation it hit a nerve and I made a decision that next year I would go with Laura on her next trip,” said Carol.
While at the Christina Noble Foundation Carol and Laura visited the three different parts of the foundation, the hospital, the school and the residential side. She was amazed by the great work being done there.
Laura has been volunteering with the Burren Chernobyl Project for the last ten years and has been filling Carol in on what to expect over there. The orphanage, which is in a remote village a little over a two hour drive south west of Minsk, is home to 220 children and adults with special needs of different severities ranging from mild to moderate and severe. They also range in age from four to 40 and some are bedbound.
The volunteers help support orphanage staff in caring for the residents, organising activities for children including massage, arts and crafts activities, sports activities, cookery and music, among others. Carol will be drawing on her experience as a primary school teacher during her time over there.
When she told her class that she was travelling to the orphanage her pupils decided to make homemade sensory balls from balloons, flower and water which she will bring with her on the trip. She will also bring games, jigsaws and puzzles for the children.
While some of the children are not able to move Carol said they still enjoy simple things like blowing bubbles. She teaches in a Gaelscoil in Tullamore and travels back to Ardara at weekends and during the summer.
Back in Ardara Carol is involved in football and used to play with the Donegal ladies. She is also involved in the Ardara show and can usually be seen helping out in the sheep ring.
Carol set a target of €500 to raise but has already exceeded that through her Go Fund me page. Carol’s school also held a number of fundraisers including a Jersey Day and A popcorn day which raised €400 alone.
Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so through the Go Fund me page
https://www.gofundme.com/f/988eny-burren-chernobyl-project or through the Burren Chernobyl Project on their website www.burrenchernobylproject.ie.