Local girls head to Jamaica to help orphaned kids with disabilities

by Rebecca Ryan

Four local students from St. Raphaela’s Secondary School in Stillorgan are heading to Jamaica this weekend to help orphaned children with disabilities.

Sophie’s Place, based in Kingston, is a residence for children with disabilities who have been abandoned by their families.

Beth Dunne, from fifth year in St. Raphaela’s, is going there on Saturday with three other classmates; Elsie Madigan, Abigal Walsh and Megan Wier, along with their teacher Laoise O’Boyle and 16 other volunteers.

They will be there for a week and will travel to different communities taking part in work projects and taking care of the residents. 

Beth, 16, from Ballinteer, told Dublin Gazette this is her second time going to Jamaica with Mustard Seed Communities Ireland, whose mission is very close to her heart.

“The charity makes a positive difference to the lives of every resident. The Mustard Seed motto is that ‘no child is ever abandoned twice’.

“When I was told about the work that Mustard Seed Communities does for people with disabilities, I immediately wanted to get involved.

“My younger sister, Alana has Down Syndrome and the thought of parents abandoning their own child, just because of their disability, or not being able to take care of them, breaks my heart.”

Beth added that she is really looking forward to seeing everyone in Jamaica again and is encouraging everyone to get behind the charity.

“It really is an experience of a lifetime, and I would recommend absolutely everyone to go on the trip and to donate as much as you can to the charity, as it is such a wonderful cause that helps the most amazing and vulnerable people.”

St Raphaela’s teacher and trip group leader, Laoise OBoyle told us about the residences that the girls will be visiting.

“They range from a home for teenage boys living with HIV/AIDS, a facility for teenage mothers, a residence for disabled adults, and an entire enclosed purpose-built village outside Kingston where these adults can live out their lives, engage in work and training and reach their full potential according to their ability.

“In order to participate in the programme, each volunteer has had to raise €2,700. They have done this through various initiatives such as bucket collections, bag packs, cake sales and non-uniform days.”

To find out more, or to support the charity, see www.mustardseedireland.ie

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