Board members Paul Mcloone and Richard Brophy visited Ethiopia to see the projects that VLM have supported over the years, during the month of March 2014. This was a long held ambition for both of them of which Richard Brophy has served the board since its original formation and recent addition to the board Paul Mcloone wanted to visit the projects that VLM send volunteers to assist.
The 8 day trip involved visiting the well-known sites that the Daughters of Charity and the Vincentian Fathers operate and manage. Their first set of project visits was to the Bruh Teasfa Kindergarten Training Institute and the Mariam Institute in Wolita Sodo in the south of the country. From there they travelled to Bulbulla to the school that the Daughters operate. From Bulbulla back to Addis Ababa where they saw the Atse School along with the HIV Aids Clinic, Special Needs school , Skills Training and Micro financing centre and the Alamachen Centre that handle pre and post care of orthopaedic patients of a local hospital which was founded by a Dutch Vincentian.
The trip was rounded off with a visit to the Ambo Deaf School where Provincial Fr Gethun and Fr Asfaw have a personal interest and are delighted with the assistance of VLM in sourcing funding from Missean Cara and also see it expanding again. For Richard Brophy a past man of Castleknock College, he is delighted that students from St Vincent’s Castleknock College and St Pauls Raheny go over every summer to assist in the school with the help of the teachers of St Vincent’s and St Pauls.
Both Paul and Richard met with active volunteers out there and also met with the provincials of the Vincentians and Daughters to discuss and identify the needs of the two organisations and people on the ground. There is a need for more volunteers out there. While VLM volunteers are traditionally from a teaching background, there are opportunities for volunteers with business, information communications technology, scientific and medical backgrounds along with building and carpentry skills for the communities but also for students and staff of the various projects.
Richard and Paul would like to thank the Daughters of Charity and the Vincentian Fathers for the coordinating the accommodation and travel within the country and the VLM representative in Ethiopia Sr Lettermarion who gave good guidance throughout the trip. They also would like to thank Mary Anne, VLM coordinator, for her help in making the bookings and arrangements and Fr Michael with guidance on the trip and meeting us on our return.