GAA backing of Alan Kerins’ charity shows nice guys do win

One of the long held regrets of those who have participated in Gaelic games over the decades is that the beauty and benefit of the games are in the main confined to this island.

However, the benefits of the association will soon be felt on the African continent now, after the welcome news from Croke Park last evening that the Alan Kerins African Projects has been chosen as the Association’s official charity for 2009-10.

The charity, which is the brainchild of the Clarinbridge man has been doing sterling work in Zambia for the past few years, touching the lives of many people who would be unable to make the changes they need to improve their lot and their health, were it not for the intervention and drive of Alan.

It was ironic that the announcement was made on the same day that it was revealed that Trocaire has had to lay off staff and withdraw from several countries. They are forced to do this by the drop off in donations and the massive cutbacks in overseas aid — the assurance of which had allowed Trocaire to go on doing marvellous work for many years in many corners of the world.

The continued detention of GOAL’s Sharon Commins and her colleagues is also an ongoing reminder of the dangers and challenges that our overseas aid groups face on a permanent basis.

In times such as this when money is scarce, the need for such bodies is greater than ever and that is why the Croke Park news is a great boost to Alan and his dedicated team.

I had the opportunity last summer to transcribe a column by Clarinbridge’s Joe Murphy who had travelled to Zambia as part of a team of Alan’s volunteers, led by the energetic Gerry Rabbitt and Matt Flesk.

For the guts of a month or so, I’d make a late night telephone call to deepest (e-mail less ) Zambia, to take down Joe’s account of what happened that day, that week for use in a weekly column which we ran that summer.

And it was a pleasure to hear the organic nature of it all, of how the team would have performed a seemingly simple engineering task during the day that would make a massive difference to the lives of those who lived in the school run there. It was also great to hear how they used their entrepreneurial and technical skills to get the best bargains when it came to buying the materials needed.

The Presentation Sisters there are full of appreciation for the funds and voluntary help which they have received from Alan Kerins since 2005. His charity has contributed to funds for facilities such as new rooms in an overcrowded school, a block-making machine which increased production from 280 blocks a day to 1,500, equipment for sinking wells, in addition to providing life saving food supplies during a period of severe drought. Much work has been done also in the Cheshire Home which caters for 132 children from the ages of two months to 14 years.

In times like this, when the futility of greed and the shallowness of the accumulation of wealth, property, the allure of drugs and alcohol, have been shown to be totally lacking, it is gratifying to see that a young man as talented, articulate, and downright sound as Alan has chosen to do this.

In the coming year, the GAA and Alan Kerins will be organising events to make maximum use of their ratification by the association. Ensure that your club, your county plays a part in this and honours the true Gael who has made this all happen. Galway is proud of him. Again.

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