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Words of wisdom – inspiring quotes from VSO Ireland volunteers

It’s International Volunteer Day, the perfect opportunity to give a shout out to the hundreds of Irish volunteers who have passed through our doors and shared their skills on VSO placements. Throughout the VSO selection process we describe volunteering as a whole life change, an experience that gives you a new perspective on the world and equips you with life-long skills. With this in mind, we asked 12 of our volunteers to pass on their words of wisdom. Here’s what they said:

"Human life is precious and we should all support each other. Look at the global picture, and help where we can"

- Padraic McKeon from Mayo who volunteered in Uganda

Volunteer Padraic McKeon in Kasimeri Primary School, Moroto, Uganda

 “It is by no means an easy thing to take time out from our own lives and take a chance on trying something new, but in my experience, it is the best thing I have ever done.”

- Paul O’Keefe from Dublin who volunteered in Myanmar

“People learn in different ways and you need to be patient, flexible and open to new ideas.”

- Bebhinn Ní Mhuirí from Down who volunteered in Rwanda

Bebhinn Ní Mhuirí training Alexis Ufitimana in a Rwandan classroom.

“The feeling of goodwill and gratitude from teachers, parents and children when they see VSO volunteers is indescribable and one which filled me with pride every time I was welcomed as a VSO volunteer. The rewards on a personal level are impossible to count.”

- Maria Casey from Kerry who volunteered in Uganda

“If you take someone out of their normal environment and put them in a new one, you can develop unbelievably. You change in ways you wouldn't have imagined, you do things you wouldn't have thought you would have done.”

- Claire Nic Gabhann from Monaghan who volunteered in Tanzania

Claire Nic Gabhann in her home in Bukoba, Tanzania.

“It is impossible to capture the colour, excitement and joy of my time as a VSO volunteer. I can only say to anyone thinking of volunteering to go for it. You have now idea of the riches that may await you.”

- Eoin O’Maoileoin from Dublin who volunteered in Papua New Guinea

“I’m 68. I think it’s a great time for a new challenge. My work here while challenging provides great opportunities for giving and learning. It is through sharing that we really become human.”

- Seán Fitzmaurice from Dublin who is currently volunteering in Malawi

Seán FitzMaurice and Rodwel Mkasauka at Chatsala Primary School, Lilongwe, Malawi.

“Being a volunteer again is strange, so different from when I was 25! As you get older you get a bit set in your ways and change becomes a bit more daunting but that is what makes it an adventure!”

- Liam Egan from Mayo who volunteered in Tanzania

“This experience has energised and challenged me in equal measures. As in all societies, change, development and progress require patience and time. Rome wasn’t built in a day!”

- Tim O’Connor from Cork who volunteered in Cambodia

“A longer term placement is important because you get to work with the same people over a long period of time; you build positive working relationships and trust; you can see progress being made and the local teachers start to see you as a trusted friend.”

- Michelle Dully from Meath who volunteered in Rwanda

Michelle Dully buying food from a local market in Muhanga, Rwanda.

“There have been difficult moments, difficult days and there will be more – but never for even one second have I regretted coming here.”

– Ruairí O’Hehir from Dublin who volunteered in Rwanda

“In Ireland, we tend to associate Africa with famine, disease and war, but there is another reality here. There is an overwhelming sense of kinship, community and loyalty, and people are quick to laugh and smile.”

- Marie Banaghan from Meath who volunteered in Malawi

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