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Didi to join Haiti relief effort

Didi Driscoll, the director of Sunrise Education Trust  and a member of the Amurtel disaster management organisation.  Photograph by John KellyWHITEGATE resident and yogic nun, Didi O’Driscoll has been collecting toys, clothes and other items from the East Clare community to raise funds for Haiti and this week, she will take the proceeds from her jumble sale to Port au Prince as she joins the relief effort.
Didi, an American national who settled in Whitegate five years ago, has been involved with AMURTEL, an international NGO, for roughly 20 years. She has worked in India, Brazil and Somalia with the homeless and destitute and she will now return to that work in Haiti.
Speaking to The Clare Champion, Didi explained that Amurtel had two schools operating in Port-au-Prince. One of those, thankfully still intact, is where the group is offering emergency medical care to those affected by the recent earthquake. 
“I’m a trained EMT (emergency medical technician) and I expect that when I go over, I will be working with the most vulnerable, women, children and older people. I know we have some camps set up and while the reports on the news are harrowing, I get more reports back from Amurtel of what good they are doing. Haiti is probably one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere and for this to happen, it is just horrendous but so far, Amurtel has successfully got food to 10,000 people and we have approval to feed a further 10,000 next week,” she said.
Asked how she will prepare herself for the harrowing experience that awaits her in Haiti’s capital, Didi said, “I think the best preparation that I can do is meditation. I’m very in tune with my body, mind and spirit and I feel blessed and protected and I feel I can do some good. If one good thing comes out of this, I would hope that the people of Haiti can be left with a sense of community. We try to get communities involved in distributing aid and helping one another and try to build that sense of community.”
She feels that once all the aid agencies pull out of the country, the people themselves will need a community spirit to drive themselves forward.
Didi has been living in Whitegate for the last five years having taken over a dilapidated farm, which she has turned into an eco-farm and bakery. She also teaches yoga.
Didi will be departing for the Dominican Republic this week and from there she will fly to Port-au-Prince. She is expected to return by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, fellow East Clare resident, Zak Healy from Caher will also head out to Haiti. The 22-year-old will be joining the relief efforts with NGO charity HAVEN.

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