Global Awareness Programme: Barry Morrissey Volunteer in Nigeria
Barry Morrissey is one of the winners of EIL Travel Awards 2009 and will spend two months in Nigeria as part of the Global Awareness Programme. We asked him some questions about his expectations, motivation and feelings before he leaves this month. This is what Barry told us during the interview.
"My name is Barry Morrissey. I'm 35 years of age and originally from Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny. I'm a Primary Teacher and I've been working in a developing school in Dublin 15 for the last three years. I'm volunteering in Nigeria, I will be working with the Living Hope Care for Plwha Society in Ilesa, which is a palliative care centre for children with HIV&Aids. Ilesa has a population of about 270,000 and is about 160 miles from Lagos."
Next month you're going to Nigeria as part of the Global Awareness Programme. Are you excited about that? Is that your first volunteer abroad experience?
I've done volunteering in Ireland and traveled a good bit abroad, so I'm very excited to have the opportunity that the Global Awareness Programme offers, to be able to combine both of these and continue our work when we come back home.
Why did you decide to apply for this programme and what are you expecting from this volunteer experience?
I decided to apply for the programme because I felt that HIV&AIDS issues are some of the most important challenges we face and the media especially doesn't attach as much importance to these issues as they should. The Global Awareness Programme offered me a chance to raise my own understanding of these issues, in Nigeria especially, issues like access to first line anti retroviral drugs and to raise my own awareness of some of the stigma and discrimination that surrounds these issues. I hope that I will be able to help in a positive way maybe through development education in schools to be able to raise awareness of these issues. I'm sure that working day to day in the care centre will present many challenges but many positives as well.
On your return to Ireland, you will be leading an Awareness Raising Campaign. What do you think about making your community more aware of HIV&AIDS issues? How important do you think public action is?
I think public action and awareness raising are absolutely vital in bringing the importance of HIV&Aids issues to everyone's attention. These issues can very quickly slip down the order of importance in the media's perception and I think they need to be constantly kept to the forefront of the public's minds. There are three million HIV&Aids sufferers in Nigeria, who are dependant on receiving the right kind of treatment and through making people aware of the issues that surround the access to this treatment, a public campaign may make the media and politicians take more notice. There are still stigmas and discrimination surrounding HIV&Aids in Ireland and an awareness and education campaign is very important to dispell some of the misinformation that is there, and that's one of the missions of the Global Awareness Programme, that while we can think globally we may also act locally.