Anna McGranaghan, Garda Siochana, Denise McCool, IDP, Andrew Ward, IDP, Ciara Breen, Families Matter and Jacqueline Cagder, Alochol Forum at the ChangeMaker 10 Year Seminar in An Grianan Hotel, Burt
More than 80 ChangeMakers gathered at An Grianan Hotel in Burt yesterday (Thursday) morning to celebrate 10 years of the project making a real difference across Donegal over the last decade.
ChangeMakers – an Inishowen Development Partnership initiative that is partnered with Donegal ETB, Self Help Africa, Trócaire, and Concern, aims to tackle the global issues such as sustainability, climate change, Fairtrade, food waste, and more, but on a local level within Donegal.
Funded by Irish Aid, ChangeMakers has been making an impact with the community and local groups over the last decade and last Thursday the groups turned out in large numbers to celebrate ChangeMakers achievements as well as hear their plans for the next decade.
A variety of speakers took to the stage but of the stars on the day was Clonmany woman Bebhinn Mullins who spoke about how taking part in the ChangeMakers Global Development course during the pandemic changed her perspective.
“This is a wonderful course, it really taught us about the global issues but with a local link,” said Bebhinn.
“Everyone has the potential to be a ChangeMaker and everyone working or volunteering in the community, is a ChangeMaker.”
Bebhinn’s ChangeMaker moment came whenever she realised the crab she had bought in her local supermarket had come from Indonesia, when there are young men from Clonmany fishing crab every day of the week in her own locality.
“From doing the ChangeMakers Global Development course I had learned a lot of about food travel and waste and I felt ashamed that I was eating this crab from Indonesia,”
Bebhinn told the seminar: “I wanted to take action.”
With help from FoodCloud, a social enterprise that redistributes food that is nearing its sell-by date, Bebhinn and the team set up the Clonmany Community Pantry. 70 households in the Inishowen area are now using the Pantry.
“The Pantry is not about what people have, it is not about poverty – although it is helping with that – our focus is on food waste and what we can do to combat that and make the world a better place. It is a very small step but it is making a very big difference,” explained Bebhinn.
The team in Clonmany have now progressed through the help of their volunteers to launch the first student community pantry in NUI Galway, with more than 100 students attending it on a daily basis.
Roisin O’Hara from Trócaire and a member of the ChangeMakers Steering Committee said the Clonmany Community Pantry is a perfect example of what can be achieved through ChangeMakers and through the right organisations.
“ChangeMakers plant the seeds for community groups such as this to grow,” she told the tenth-anniversary seminar on Thursday.
“Through their programme they are empowering local community groups and local people to drive their own development and creating a movement for change in Donegal. There is real hope and creativity in this room today,” she added.
Similarly, Maria Riordan, Education Officer with Irish Aid, who are the main funders of ChangeMakers, said it was great to see so many like-minded people in the same room.
“When communities come together - make connections, share conversations and ideas - wonderful things can happen,” she said.
“It takes a whole community to try and tackle the global issues – but we at Irish Aid are grateful to ChangeMakers for setting the standard, and sharing the knowledge. With the help of all the agencies they are creating a fairer more sustainable future for all of us.”
Key Speaker on the day Sikhanyisile Dube told the crowd about her inspiring story of growing up in Zimbabwe and how climate change is having a devastating impact on Africa, causing drought, famine
She urged people to ‘push for change’ to try and reverse the damage already caused by climate change.
“We can do so much within our own household, but we can also push for change from our service providers and within our communities,” Sikhanyisile said.
“I look forward to making change with you all.”
For more on ChangeMakers see www.changemakers.ie
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