Newbridge College winners of the 2013 Concern National debating competition spent a week in July visiting Concern projects in Ethiopia.
Ciara Maher, Jeffery Hovenden-Keane, Chloe O’Reilly and Grainne Carr along with their debate mentors Catherine Kelly and Deirdre Murphy saw at first hand the work Concern is doing on the ground there.
“People were so kind and welcoming and Concern has really changed their lives,” said Team Captain Grainne Carr from Ardclough.
“We visited a water project in Kombolcha, a northern village in Ethiopia. Before this water project was developed people had to walk kilometres to get water. That’s all changed now.”
A Concern day will now be organised in Newbridge College this year to explain to the students what Concern is doing in Ethiopia.
Chloe O’Reilly from Ballymanny in Newbridge, visited a women’s empowerment project in Kombolcha.
“Many of the women did not know they had rights, that there was an alternative way to live their lives. Through the work of Concern they were learning that life did not have to be as it was and after a while they invited their husbands to the meetings. These women admitted that they now had confidence to speak up for themselves,”
Ciara Maher from Kilcullen admits to being shell-shocked when she arrived in Addis Ababa . “ I had never before seen such poverty.
“Concern puts little or no value in hand outs. In all its programmes it puts a lot of emphasis on following up on the work it begins,” she explains.
Jeffrey, who lives in Kilcullen was greatly impressed with what he saw in Ethiopia.
“And it was not Concern staff who were telling me what was being done but local people.”
- Paula Campbell