Colin Brennan – Haiti

I am currently volunteering at Nos Petit Frères et Soeurs, a Special Education program in Haiti. Since I can remember I have had a passion for travel, different cultures and have always wanted to live a life less ordinary. It was on a trip to South America, where I first came across widespread ‘in your face’ poverty and that definitely changed something in me……it sounds clichéd, but I wanted to do something! My original background was in surveying, but I knew that wasn’t for me. This did however gave me some skills which I thought might be useful in a developing country. I then went on to complete an MA in International Development, which helped me hone these skills for future work.

After my degree, I initially went on to work in a tech company in Dublin, before interning for 6 months in VC. This was a fantastic experience and gave me practical skills that I could use in the field. Now on the Special Needs Program no day is ever the same. I am doing everything from project writing, to communications, to project co-ordination. Life in Haiti can be very tough, especially for children with special needs. 80% of the population live on less than $2 a day and there is a still a stigma attached to those with disabilities. I have never worked in a school before, never mind a special needs school, but every day I come in I can see that the kids are delighted to be there. This makes it a very enjoyable place to work.

My work with VC has also continued. Five years on Haiti is still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake and this has created a real need for skilled expat volunteers. VC is now looking to assist more organisations in Haiti and being on the ground here, I try to assist where I can.