A volunteer who aims to go to Nepal to give much needed help to children has organised a table quiz in the Bridge End Bar, Ballyshannon for Friday next, December 9 to help raise proceeds for her future visit which she hopes will take place in January 2012.
Ballyshanonn native, Dolores McWeeney hopes to provide much needed help to children who are being helped under the auspices of the The Umbrella Foundation in Nepal by orgnaising a number of events to raise funds for impending journey in her native town and surrounding areas.
Nepal has gone through many changes over the past two decades, with the ten year insurgency changing the face of the country forever. Children are the biggest victims of the civil war and the thousands of children living on the streets or in children’s homes and orphanages are constant reminders of Nepal’s struggle.
“Northern Irish born writer and teacher, Viva Bell, was living in Kathmandu through it all. She saw the country that she loved so much be torn apart and could not help but witness the thousands of conflict displaced children arriving in the capital every month. Viva felt helpless and frustrated by the events that were surrounding her, but unlike so many others Viva could not turn her back on the country that she loved so much. She started to take action and address the problems that were now on her own doorstep,” Dolores said.
In 2005, Viva Bell and Dave Cutler founded The Umbrella Foundation and set up a children’s home. With the help of the Nepali Social Welfare Board, The Umbrella Foundation housed many malnourished and uneducated children in the new home.
“These healthy, happy and well-adjusted children have been given a new lease on life, and for the first time, a dream of a better future for themselves and their country. The Umbrella Foundation seeks to relieve the impact of poverty and war on the children of Nepal through projects which promote education, vocational training, and community enrichment, so that they may grow up to become responsible, contributing citizens of Nepal,” she said.
Umbrella’s goal is to develop the child in all aspects of their education and life. Their first objective is to have all children pass their School Leaving Certificate (SLC), giving them a solid academic foundation. Then they will join the ‘Next Steps Programme’ this programme was designed for teenagers, to help them evolve towards professional life.
“The programme will teach them life skills, and help them choose the right path for them. When students excel in their academic studies Umbrella will offer scholarships to pursue further education but due to UFN’s financial constraints, most of the children will not have the chance to go to college, so UFN need to ready them for employment after SLC,” she said.
Viva and Cutler focused on rescuing, housing, and educating trafficked and destitute children. The current capacity is 325 children, living in eight houses.
“Most of this great work is carried out by volunteers. These volunteers come from all over the world and from all walks of life each bringing something special to the unfortunate children. For example the foundation has had help from regular volunteers like me to the great Irish rugby player and long time Umbrella supporter, Jamie Healsip,” she said.
Dolores was delighted when she applied to become a volunteer with the association and she was accepted.
“I applied to volunteer and was delighted to be accepted. I am going in early January 2012 to work for three months in the children’s homes. To do this I need fundraise €3,000 by myself. A substantial amount of this money will go directly to the foundation and the rest to help with my travel expenses. I don’t know why but I have always had an urge to help others who are less fortunate than myself. I have had many great opportunities in my life for example I recently graduated from the University of Ulster with an Msc in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology. I believe that no matter what’s going on in my life things could be worse and that I should be grateful for what I have. So now after all the help I got throughout my life I want to give back to someone who is less fortunate in the positive way I received it,” she said.
Dolores worked as a co-ordinator and outdoor instructor at the ‘Share Centre Holiday’ in Lisnaskea, Fermanagh and also worked as a special need assistant in Belfast. She has called upon all her local businesses to donate anything they can to make this a successful and entertaining night which we can share as a community. She has also organised to bag pack for a day at her local Mace in a bid to raise some much needed funds for the charitable works which she hopes to carry out in Nepal this coming year. She also hopes to enlist the help of local schools.