A Castlebar woman has been nominated in the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World Awards. Aisling Neary from Rathbawn, Castlebar has been recognised internationally for her humanitarian and voluntary leadership qualities.
The qualified nurse, who was nominated for the award by Ultan Molloy from Ballindine, is now down to a group of 20 young people who have made a considerable contribution to the world in various capacities.
Aisling, who qualified as a nurse in 1998, first got the bug for voluntary work in 1999 when she travelled to Romania to put her skills to good use in an orphanage. Shortly after returning to Ireland, Aisling was off again, traveling to Australia to help underdeveloped families in the bush and also providing care to HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Speaking to The Mayo News about her nomination, the modest Castlebar woman described it all as ‘a bit mad’.
“I’ve never done it for any other reason than just wanting to help people. I was two or three years doing different projects in Romania and then Moldova.” explained Aisling.
While working in the Brothers of Charity in 2010, Aisling made a decision to take some time off and pursue her love of volunteering by providing eye screenings in remote parts of Ghana.
“Kieran Lavery told me I would just be checking people’s eyes and I thought, ‘why not’.
“One week into it I visited a village and it kind of changed everything to be honest.”
Having seen the shocking conditions in the village and from speaking to one of the chiefs from the village, Aisling said she immediately thought, ‘what do they need, I have money’.
Needing to raise over €20,000 to build a school for the village, Aisling set up a mycharity.ie page.
“I remember getting a ten euro donation and thinking, ‘only €19,990 to go’.”
Returning to Ghana to help with the build, Aisling describes her return to the West African country as being, ‘pulled like a magnet’.
“I just loved doing it. It felt right.”
Now two years on from her initial visit, the school has 85 students, with three more classes and three additional teachers expected to join the school for the coming term.
“A report is being put together at the moment to see how the school is doing and I still get loads of photos. At least I still have a bit of an input, I don’t mind as long as the children are happy.”
On the move again, Aisling plans on traveling to Nepal this November for six weeks to work with two local charities. However, depending on the outcome of her success in the JCI awards, she might have to adjust her plans, as the awards take place in Taipei, Taiwan in mid-November in conjunction with the World Congress.
Having worked with charities including United Christian Aid with Tom Lennon, Missionary for Charity in Calcutta, Cross Cause and Health Action Overseas, Aisling’s devotion to humanitarian aid and her spirit of active citizenship has been recognised internationally by being shortlisted in the awards.
You can vote for Aisling at www.jci.cc/toypvote. Votes will be tallied and a judging panel will also decide who will make the top ten to be honoured at the ceremony this November.
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