A young Longford woman will embark on a journey of a lifetime later this year as she travels to the Tanzanian north west city of Arusha to work voluntarily at a local orphanage.
Leigh Casey, a photography student from Newtownforbes hopes to travel to the west African country in April of this year with charity organisation Projects-Abroad Ireland.
The group were founded in the early 1990s, sending young volunteers who were on their ‘gap years’ to Romania to assist in orphanages and teach English to the children in these institutions.
On the cusp of her year out, Leigh says travelling to help those less fortunate than herself was something she has always aspired to do. In the run up to her Leaving Certificate last year, Leigh visited the Higher Options career exhibition. This was where the 19-year-old discovered her calling.
“I was at an exhibition at the RDS in Dublin last year. As I made my way around the stalls, the Projects Abroad one just stood out at me. I’m taking a year out next year so I just thought it would be a good idea to go to somewhere such as Tanzania as it’s something I always wanted to do.”
As with any parent who is told of their child’s desire to travel 4,500 miles from home, Leigh’s mother was at first, quite apprehensive. “When I told my Mum first, she did freak out a little and it came as a bit of a shock to her. But she has since come around to the idea now.”
The former Scoil Mhuire student will assist staff and her fellow volunteers from all over the world at a local orphanage where she will work for eight weeks, before moving on to assist in teaching English to pupils at a local primary school.
As this is a totally voluntary adventure, Leigh must first raise €5,000 in order to travel. These funds will go towards placement fees, flights, vaccinations, visas and kit costs. A fundraising night in aid of her trip will take place at Casey’s Pub, Newtownforbes on Saturday, February 2nd. Music on the night will be provided by local musician Colm Mulligan and a ‘Grand Draw’ raffle will also take place. First prize is a €200 voucher courtesy of Kane’s Travel, second prize is a two night stay at Viewmount House, while third prize is a €50 fuel voucher from Byrne’s Filling Station in Longford town.