A NEW charity set-up in Cabra is capturing the hearts of local students, and helping impoverished communities on an island off the coast of Africa.
Madagascar is known mostly from the popular animated movies for kids or as a dream holiday destination but hidden beneath its beauty lies a dark secret.
Hundreds of the island’s men, women and children live on rubbish dumps, eking out a living by recycling what they can for less than 50 cent a day.
It’s a far cry from the paradise presented in the popular Madagascar movies and a sight the island’s tourists never get to see.
However, local husband and wife, Bernard and Marie Neary, experienced close-up the reality of life for the rubbish-dwellers when they spent three months volunteering there.
Teenagers working the dump start at dawn, waiting for the rubbish trucks to arrive, so they can search for metal to sell in the city.
Elderly women collect bottle-tops, plastic, bits of scrap, wire and even bones that are crushed and sold as fertilizer. Nothing goes to waste.
When they returned to Ireland the Nearys spread the word on what was happening on Madagascar, which is the size of France with a population of 22 million.
Last February, a group of those touched by the plight of the islanders founded DEIS (Development Education Ireland Sharing) Madagascar Ltd. The Irish meaning for ‘Deis’ is opportunity.
The charity is now fundraising to build, and fully furnish, a new two-classroom building in Madagascar, in association with a respected, local NGO there, Madagascar Development Fund (MDF).
The story has also touched the students of Cabra Community College, who did an excellent project on the dumps last year and took a special shine to Madagascar.
They recently volunteered to put their words into action by taking part in bag-pack at Tesco Cabra for DEIS Madagascar.
The students and staff bag-packed at the checkouts from 10.30am until 4pm, with DEIS Madagascar volunteers taking over until 6pm.
The students, in their school uniforms, were energetic and enthusiastic and cheerfully bag-packed for most of the day.
And their efforts, along with the generosity of Tesco Cabra in facilitating DEIS Madagascar, resulted in donations totalling €667.88, which will go towards the school-building project in Madagascar.
DEIS Madagascar want to thank Cabra Community College, especially students Katelyn, Peter, Trinity, Niamh, Tristan, Nadine and Alex.