Kildare Person of the Year 2010 – International Award

Paddy O’Conor – Rehab Kildare International Award Winner 2010

Paddy receiving his award

Paddy O’Connor from Athgarvan describes himself as a “Professional Beggar” in his support of the orphaned children of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya.

Paddy was utterly shocked by his first visit to Kibera, 3 quarters of a million people living in squalor, no fresh water or sanitation whatsoever, eating, cooking, sleeping like crowded ants on a precarious ant hill. “The stench was overwhelming” – it was like being in an abbatoir with the smell of burning offal attacking your nostrils. – “If you think poverty doesn’t smell, think again”

One inspiration for Paddy was Mary, who looked after children orphaned by AIDS, her resourceful planning to irrigate lands, produced large yields of vegetables, with the dung from her small herd of cattle fueling the kitchen stove. Mary, in turn introduced Paddy to Mama Tunza, who cared for 80 children in a 2 bed shack with 4 classrooms piled on top. – “An absolute death trap”

“All the children want is to go to school, a chance to be educated, to have a future” said Paddy. And that’s what Cara Projects provided. With the generosity of ┬ávolunteers, fundraisers and helpers, the organisation purchased 1.5 acres of land and built 2 x 50 bed dormitories, 1 each for boys and girls, with proper kitchens, shower blocks and even a new mini bus to transport the children to school.

Paddy hopes to secure 5 acres of Masai lands next year and build a Polytecnic school, a training centre to teach computer, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and dress making skills. Every Euro raised by Cara Projects goes directly to African Projects, to aid and improve the lives of those who need it – the orphans of Kibera.

With plans to open the training centre and their Child Sponsorship Programme an ongoing venture Paddy O’Connor, Rehab Kildare International Award Winner 2010, looks set to continue in the role of a professional beggar for another while yet!

– Rose B. O’Donoghue