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Meet Kathleen O’Brien from Carrigtwohill in Cork.

Amid the Covid lockdown, visiting the local church in Carrigtwohill for private prayer, Kathleen noticed that something wasn’t right.

This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there were far less people visiting the Church and the pile of Trócaire boxes in the wicker basket at the back of the Church seemed to be depleting very slowly from week to week.

Having worked in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, Kathleen understood the impact the boxes sitting in the basket could have.While working overseas with an Irish Aid Agency, Kathleen crossed paths with Trócaire workers. She also encountered various Religious Communities and local groups who were in receipt of significant funding from Trócaire. She saw first-hand how specific sustainable projects enhance the lives of the local people, promoting food production, clean water, employment, and care of environment, to name but a few.

Kathleen felt uneasy seeing the Trócaire boxes sitting untouched in the wicker baskets – she knew the implications of this;  ‘What could we do?’ she thought.

Kathleen gathered her keen grandchildren (ranging from 6mts -11 years) around the kitchen table. She spoke to the children about Lent and the Trócaire box and the power it has to help those less fortunate around the world. They were full of energy and ready to help. Together, they hatched the idea of a cake sale.

They agreed to have it at a local crossroads in Ballintubber, where the road was wide and where, years ago, locals gathered to dance, play games or to chat. Kathleen approached the neighbours who offered positive support, encouragement, tables, and anything that would help. A local Trócaire volunteer heard of the plans and offered t-shirts and Trócaire balloons. Kathleen’s eldest grandchild put together a display of pictures of Trócaire’s work in various parts of the world and the huge Trócaire Box from the church was fetched. Kathleen’s husband checked the weather forecast. The event was advertised on a private Facebook page for the Ballintubber residents.

As the event came together, the excitement amongst the children was palpable. They were used to “playing shop”, but this was the real thing, and it was going to help people in South Sudan. It was a wonderful opportunity to set a” seed of giving” in the lives of these young children.

The ingredients were gathered on Ash Wednesday and on Holy Thursday the baking commenced right through until Friday evening – exhausted and satisfied, they were ready. The children were so eager…. the event was near.

The sun shone especially for the big day when they began at 10am on Saturday morning. Kathleen and the young team were so delighted with the support of neighbours and those who came from the village with their own cakes. Everyone chatted happily in the morning sun (all keeping their social distance) as the children ran the cake stand.

At the end of a successful day, they had left behind a memory that was simply powerful. The children had worked for others less fortunate; they had provided neighbours with an opportunity to donate to Trócaire and equally created a lovely “meeting at the crossroads “for all concerned.

It was not about the selection of cakes, but rather about creating an opportunity to GIVE.
“Instilling in children an awareness of others whose life paths are challenging, is a key part of their education and I would encourage anyone reading this to contemplate organising such an event. It could be called Children at the Crossroads for Trócaire

Kathleen’s team had raised over €1,800. More envelopes followed and on the Wednesday of Easter week, the children presented the Parish Priest with €2,000 for Trócaire.

“I’m sure our efforts will have made some positive impact for people we will never meet, but who equally share our world.”

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