Castleisland Community College has been involved in fundraising ventures with Eddie Sheehy and the Kenyan Education Project for the past three years. Students from the ‘3 Diarmuid’ class recently presented Eddie with a cheque for €350.
A full team football kit of jerseys, shorts and socks were also presented by a proud parent and soccer and GAA enthusiast, Jim O’ Connor from Scartaglin. This will go to the football academy that Eddie also established for the youth in Kenya.
Killarney Road, Castleisland native, Eddie has been living and working in Killarney for the past few decades and he has travelled to Kenya every summer for over the past 11 years. He has helped to build a Primary School in Embubul, 20 miles from the Capital Nairobi.
In fact the college did a football boot collection for him a few years ago and the team in Kenya, to which the boots went, reached the equivalent of our All-Ireland final with many of the team wearing the boots from the Castleisland area.
Beneficial to Locals
Eddie’s work has helped to educate numerous children as well as helping other projects that are beneficial to the local people. Money was also given to the Good Samaritan Project, a feeding programme for orphans and to the local branch of the St Vincent de Paul.
The students of 3 Diarmuid completed a sponsored silence to raise funds as part of their C.S.P.E. action project for the Junior Cycle under the guidance of their teacher, Ann Marie Healy.
Eddie praised the efforts of Ms. Healy and her community college colleague, Justin Bennett and all the students and management for their continued efforts on behalf of the charity.
“Students have learned over the past number of years about the lack of education in Kenya and have raised money on an annual basis to help,” said Ms.Healy.
A Daily Meal
“This year’s sum of €350 raised by students will ensure that education is provided for one primary school child and one secondary school child in Kenya as well as providing them with a daily meal. “Over the course of their project, students learned about the living conditions and lack of education available to teenagers their own age in this African country.
“They gained a new found respect for the high standard of living they enjoyed not only in their home life but also for the high standard of education they receive in school.
“They would like to thank Mr. Sheehy for volunteering his time to come in and speak to the class about his charity work and wish him the best of luck for his future work in Kenya. Many thanks also to Jim O’Connor for the very generous contribution of the football gear,” Ms. Healy concluded.
Below is an account Eddie wrote a few years ago for a magazine run by the charity he is involved with. By the time he wrote this he was already a seasoned volunteer in Kenya. Interestingly, Eddie’s daughter is following two-fold in her dad’s footsteps. Triona Sheehy is a teacher and is also about to taste long-term life in Kenya so well know to her dad. Eddie will travel out with her to see her settling in there but Triona will be spending a longer spell than him there this summer. My thanks to Eddie and Triona and to Ann Marie Healy in Castleisland Community College for their help with the article and the photographs.
Perceptions of a Volunteer
By Eddie Sheehy
I first came to Kenya in July 2005, as part of a group from Killarney, Co Kerry, Ireland. I stayed in the parish of Embulbul and traveled to other parts of the country. When in Embulbul I visited the Br. Beausang Primary School, volunteered to take some classes, and taught English and Geography. The standard eight class were preparing for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (K.C.P.E.) so l helped out as much as I could.
I came into contact first hand with the day-to-day running of a non-government school, which was the responsibility of the parish priest.
Poor Quality Classrooms
On returning home I found it hard to forget how education in that school was so challenging in poor quality classrooms, overcrowding, high noise level due to nearby busy road, and lack of textbooks and teaching aids.
I retained my positive images of dedicated teachers, happy children willing to work hard where the home environment wasn’t always conducive to learning.
With great support from family and friends I decided to return in 2004 and made a big effort to fundraise and collect as much money as possible for the school. Despite huge obstacles at customs I managed to bring books, pencils, biros and reference books to the school.
In 2004 a secondary school was established to cater for the further educational needs of the village and surrounding areas. As a secondary teacher I felt at home immediately, undaunted by large class sizes (50), few teaching aids and little equipment for extra – curricular activities.
New Staff Members
So began my association with Br. Beausang Secondary School, which has continued, to 2006. I’ve seen the school grow from 100 students to its present number of 224 with further growth projected, along- side the allocation of new classrooms and arrival of new staff members.
Thankfully family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors have continued to support my fundraising efforts knowing that whatever money is donated comes directly to the school.
This year money has been used to purchase new textbooks for the primary school, chemistry equipment, computer facilities, and sports equipment for the secondary school and a contribution towards the planned building of a brand new secondary school in 2006 – 2007.
People often ask me why I continue to do this? I don’t have a definite answer but I know that it’s a special privilege to work in Embulbul. I have met many dedicated people, idealistic and forward thinking who are setting firm roots for the future of education in this area.
Contact and Love of Sport
I have come to know and befriend many of the students through class contact and love of sport. I have been welcomed by people in the village through a shared interest in sport.
I have walked through the slum area of the villages and been welcomed and greeted by young and old. I have visited the homes of some of the students and listened to their worries, their troubles and their dreams of a better future.
There are times when I can’t understand why there are still great inequalities in our society, why some people are born to struggle day after day while others breeze through life. There is something deep in the human spirit that keeps us all going, hopefully to share what we have with others and give of ourselves and not count the cost.