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28th Dec 2016

8 Positive Contributions Ireland Has Made To The Rest Of The World

James Fenton

Nelson Mandela once famously said that ‘there can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.’

Us Irish have certainly taken that sentiment to heart. 

There are a number of examples through the years of our compatriots going out of their way to travel the globe and make life even a tiny bit easier for those less fortunate.

We’ve listed some of our favourite examples here. When you’re finished, why not lend a hand to someone who needs it? The cycle of karma will surely come back to reward you sooner rather than later!

1. The Christina Noble Foundation

A truly remarkable woman, Christina Noble was born in Dublin in 1944.

Having survived a number of hardships herself growing up in Dublin, including her mother’s death, seperation from siblings and a spell sleeping rough, she arrived in Vietnam in 1989 with the aim of assisting children in need throughout the Asian country. 

She has since expanded operations to Mongolia and the 2014 film ‘Noble’ serves as a fitting tribute to Christina’s work. 

2. Team Hope Shoebox Appeal

You may remember taking part in the Shoebox Appeal at Christmas during your primary school days and the drive remains popular in schools today. 

Over the past 18 years, Team Hope has delivered shoeboxes filled with school supplies, clothing and toys to over three million children in some of the remotest and poorest parts of the world. 

To learn how you can get involved this year, check out the Team Hope webpage. If you are in any doubt about how much contributions mean to recipients, check out the size of the smiles in this Team Hope video!

3. Chernobyl Ireland

In 1991, humanitarian aid campaigner Adi Roche responded to an appeal from Ukrainian and Belarusian doctors for help in dealing with the devastation caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 

The organisation has now grown to become the biggest single contributor to Belarus in the aftermath of the 1986 explosion. 

Famously, every year, children from contaminated areas spend summer and winter holidays in Ireland but there is also a range of lesser known projects include sending surgical teams into Belarus to perform operations and train local doctors. 

4. Mary Robinson’s work with The Elders

Ireland’s first female president was one of the global leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to form ‘The Elders’, an independent group working together for peace and human rights. 

Part of Mrs. Robinson’s work has included traveling to the Middle East, Korean Peninsula and Cote D’Ivoire to encourage peace and reconciliation between warring groups. 

She has also campaigned to end child marriage in countries such as Ethiopia and India. 


5. Margaret Cousins’ fight for women’s rights in India 

Having been involved in the women’s suffrage movement, Margaret moved to India with her husband James Cousins in 1915.

She launched the Women’s Indian Association within two years of their arrival, and became India’s first female magistrate in 1923.

Four years later, she founded the All-India Women Conference, an organisation dedicated to bettering the lives of women and children in the country through educational and social projects. 

The organisation is still active today with over 1.5 million members and 500 branches. 


6. Access to education for children affected by war in Uganda

While primary education is free in Uganda, most families find it difficult to pay for their children to move on to secondary school when the time comes. 

The Acholi Education Bursary Initiative provides access to free secondary education for war-affected children in Northern Uganda.

The scheme has helped 175 children to achieve their wish of continuing their education in the African country. 


7. Peacekeeping Missions

The Irish Defence Forces have conducted peacekeeping operations with the UN in many countries, including Lebanon, Somalia and Algeria. 

The Defence Forces focus their attentions on countries which have been torn apart by conflict and civil unrest, and help to create lasting conditions for peace. 

With a constant goal of maintaining peace and security, the peacekeepers also assist in a countries changing political process, by aiding reform in judicial systems, training local law enforcement and helping to disarm and reintegrate former combatants back into their communities.

The Irish Defence Forces are currently assisting in the humanitarian refugee effort in the Mediterranean, which is the biggest humanitarian crisis for decades. The Defence Forces also currently have 29 personnel serving with the United Nations in various countries; Jordan, Syria, Congo, Lebanon, Western Sahara and in the UN HQ in New York.

Homegrown Volunteering 

Irish people obviously have altruistic hearts, and the numbers of Irish people travelling abroad to volunteer in a huge variety of places has risen over the years. 

Volunteer organisations such as EIL Intercultural Learning and Suas have been sending volunteers abroad to for years and the effects of their good work can be seen in the communities that they help.

EIL Intercultural Learning aids in the education of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their programmes involve supporting local communities by fostering their education, providing childcare, and aiding in the conservation of the environment. They highlight a volunteers opportunity to learn from travel and interactions with other cultures.

Since 2002, Suas have sent over 1,100 young people to India, Kenya and Zambia to work with schools and the education of children.