BA (Hons) in Health Promotion student Dervla Deacon talks to WIT following her time volunteering with development and volunteering organisation, SERVE
BA (Hons) in Health Promotion student at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) Dervla Deacon, has returned home from Bangalore India, having spent a month of her summer holidays volunteering.
Dervla was one of three students who volunteered with development and volunteering organisation SERVE, which WIT has links with for the past 17 years.
The SERVE organisation focuses on development and volunteering to tackle poverty in countries such as Mozambique, Philippines and India, the group of volunteers focus on improving the lives of children and young people in these countries while putting a heavy emphasis on gender equality.
The journey began for Dervla in July when she travelled with eight other volunteers and two leaders to Bangalore.
To take part in the month long volunteering, Dervla spent three days participating in obligatory training days in Cork.
As well as training, she organised a number of fundraising events to gather funds for the organisation, SERVE, “I had to raise €2995 before going, where I organised a raffle, coffee morning and I had a traditional music night in the local pub,” she says.
“I volunteered with a development and volunteering organisation called SERVE, in which I travelled to Bangalore, India where I worked in an orphanage/learning centre called Morning Star. This centre is home to approximately 85 orphaned boys aged between four and 22. The main aim of Morning Star is to provide the children with a secure home and good education so that they are given the necessary skills for future employment or study.”
While volunteering, Dervla was accommodated at the Morning Star during the weekdays and at the weekends stayed at the NSV Redemptorist hostel.
WIT chaplain, Fr David Keating believes the benefits of taking part in such a programme like this are endless, “SERVE volunteers benefit in multiple ways from the volunteering experience. They get to experience the life and work of local developmental projects in Africa, Asia and South America. The experience also enhances the professional lives of the volunteers, being able to draw on their overseas experience in their work life.”
Dervla hoped the PLC nursing course she had completed and studies in Health Promotion would be put to use at the Morning Star. “I was always interested in public health and nutrition and after attending an information evening at WIT, I realised that Health Promotion covers a much broader range of health topics, such as Mental Health and works with a wide range of population groups,” she explains.
Following her experience, Dervla said she would love to go again, having had the experience of a lifetime. “Morning Star was a pleasure to be a part of. From arriving at Morning Star, we were greeted with the warmest, friendliest welcoming and I was immediately excited about working with these lovely, happy children. I was really inspired by how the children in Morning Star looked after one another and showed great respect to their carers. I was also amazed by their positive attitude and happiness towards the simple pleasures of life.”