Recycling for Development

Sr. Nazareth’s workshop in Jean Rabel is run on the principle of working with local people and the local environment.

The vast array of items created by the ladies in the workshop, from recycled local materials, include this little cross and hair grip both made from coconut skin.



Cross made in Haiti from Coconut skin

Hair Grip made in Haiti from Coconut skin

Hair grip made in Haiti from coconut skin











Small bag made from sacking

Small bag made from sacking






Here is Sr. Nazareth holding a Marioneta                               made from a Tampico Juice bottle


This pretty rattle is made from local tree

seeds – calbase.

Haiti Handcrafts

Passport Bag made in Haiti by Sr. Nazareth’s Workshop, Jean Rabel

Local seeds are used to produce this pretty rattle

Rattle made in Jean Rabel from seeds from a local tree.

New Computers Arrive in Northwest Haiti

25th/26th May

Computer Training from Camara

Colette gets Computer Training for Teachers

This week we had some training on the new ‘raspberry pie’ computers recently delivered to the Religious of Jesus and Mary school in Colette, by 2 technicians from an organisation called Camara from Port-au-Prince.

To me it seemed like we had visited Connemara in the west of Ireland about a hundred years ago, although the countryside in Colette is probably not as barren as Connemara. It was green, as far as the eye could see with hills and low mountains in the near-distance.

The school itself was up a narrow dirt track from the main road and you had to look very specifically to identify where people lived as the houses were not very visible on first inspection.

But on the second day I began to identify where exactly the homes were; many of them were hiding (as it were) under their ‘thatched’ roofs made from local trees. They are very tiny and from the outside look like they only have enough space for one room – but it is shelter from the sweltering sun and the rains when they come!

Without realising it, the Haitian method of building homes is ecologically friendly; they simply blend in with the landscape.

Computers in Colette

Colette Computers Arrive

So all of a sudden it seemed, from out of nowhere – to a land without widespread electricity or water supplies – came 15 new computers where the teachers would learn the fundamentals of computers and then impart their learning and experience to the children in the local school.

It was so new, so revolutionary and it created a stir in the area. The teachers were excited to learn what these new inventions could do for them and to see how they would transform their lives as they grappled with the rudiments of the latest computer technology.

Outside, life carried on as normal, the cocks crew, people with donkeys made their way into the town to stock up on supplies and the goats went about their business grazing in the fields. I thought of Connemara and the difference technology would have made to the Gealtacht areas had they arrived 100 years ago.

In 2016 it’s interesting to be present in this moment and ponder how technology, we in the West now take for granted, will impact the lives of the Haitians of Colette and the potential for development and improvement they will bring to the area.

Computer Training

Colette gets new Computers and training for teachers

Arrived in Haiti

To get to Jean Rabel in North West Haiti is a feat of endurance! But I made it!

To say Jean Rabel in North West Haiti is remote is the understatement of the year. I’m told there are 30000 living in the town alone with maybe another 100,000 in the outskirts – that doesn’t seem remote, right but on Friday morning we left Port au Prince at 7.30 am and arrived here just after 5.00pm.
That’s how remote it is ; the road is like a mountain itself and we drove for at least have the journey on what I would call a mountain – no road but a pathway along rocks, stones, gravel etc. all the way. Very hard on the body, never mind the cars and bikes driving on such a surface.

Psychiatrist holds Banks responsible for Suicide while State Blacklists Protestors

Leinster House: 18th century Dublin townhouse of the Duke of Leinster. It is now the seat of parliament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leinster House: 18th century Dublin townhouse of the Duke of Leinster. It is now the seat of parliament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

from Legal Eagle Star

In the current depressing economic times, people are getting angry. Unfortunately for most they have no avenue open to them to vent this anger and they end up letting it well up inside them causing dreadful health and indeed mental health problems. The ultimate of course is when they’re pushed entirely over the edge and end up taking their own life. Hence we have the dreadful amounts of suicide we see in the Ireland of today. An article worth reading is in the Irish Independent written by Niamh Horan– 14 July 2013. I am taking the liberty of quoting the article in its entirety as it’s a powerful statement of the facts as we see them today…


A Leading psychiatrist is writing to banks on behalf of vulnerable patients, telling them he will hold them responsible in the event of a patient’s suicide.

Dr Ivor Browne says he has been seeking out the names of bank staff responsible for the pressure his patients are under before issuing them with the formal notice.

Dr Browne, former chief psychiatrist of he Eastern Health Board, said the action is “making waves” in favour of
patients who can no longer cope with mounting pressure. “I am hearing people who are being hassled and who are being threatened that their homes will be repossessed,” Dr Browne said.

[Read more…]

Opinion: ‘I’ve been looking for a job for seven years, don’t tell me the economy has bounced back’

Irish Mirror

  • 09:26, 16 DEC 2015
  • UPDATED 12:24, 16 DEC 2015

Anne Heffernan has been trying to find permanent work since the crash hit – without any success


Michael MacSweeny/Provision

Queue outside the social welfare office in Cork City

Photo – Michael MacSweeney/Provision


Seven years is a very long time to be hoping and longing and yearning for something… and for all your efforts to fail.

I’m talking about my seven-year search for a job – any job.

Since 2008, when the recession hit, I have been searching for a job, because the business I was then trying to run went further and further downhill, until caput… it was gone.

The problem, as I see it, is not that I am unskilled, inexperienced or unemployable.

I’ve spent the past four years up-skilling in the digital arena, having completed a conversion degree in Digital Media Production, a City and Guilds Diploma in Social Media for Business and am now just at the end of a nine-month internship in Social Media. [Read more…]

iPads for all 5 year olds

 Sometimes I really question what planet our politicians live on! While it may be ideal for every child to have access to an iPad, if we want to ensure Ireland remains a tech-savvy country, as indicated by Minister Noonan a month ago (see Irish Independent article below) surely the government’s focus should be on ensuring all children have access to enough food and a roof over their head – the basics to live, before committing to iPads for all.

Mr. Noonan believes all children over 5 should have access to an iPad

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said every child over the age of five should have access to an iPad to make Ireland a more tech-savvy country.

Mr Noonan also pledged to unveil a raft of budget measures which will continue to make Ireland an attractive destination for high-tech firms.

Speaking at a Fine Gael fundraising event, the minister said “very strong innovation” was the “X-factor” that Ireland needed to ensure the economic recovery continued.

“We must use the schools to drive it and we must use new ways of managing people,” Mr Noonan said.

“You need to organise people in a way they are working in teams to combine the innovative efforts of individuals to do something dramatic,” he added.


[Read more…]

Economic growth at the expense of human life

by Anne Heffernan


The tragic death by suicide of Conor Cribbin from Co. Galway is a huge indictment of the present government and the lack of importance they put on human life. As Coroner Dr. Ciaran MacLaughlin advised Conor’s family to contact the HSE to find out why they had recently refused renewal of the student’s medical card, he said, “This may be one of the consequences of austerity.” He gave the advice in the hope the family’s inquiries may assist others in a similar situation in the future, according to yesterday’s Irish Mirror.

I believe it is a disgrace that in all situations, balancing the books of our country seems to be the government’s sole objective. While no one can pin point the exact reason Conor Cribbin took his own life there have been suggestions, it may have had something to do with the fact that his medical card had been axed and that he recently heard he would not receive a college grant. The Irish Mirror has indicated that Conor suffered from ADHD and was on expensive, prescribed medication

I believe it is a sad state of affairs that the mental health of the people of our nation is declining and those in authority are ignoring the signs. Their only aim appears to be focussed on the economic outlook at the expense of the social fabric of our society. Have they never heard the old adage, ‘your health is your wealth’. Or like in so many other areas of public life, they choose to ignore common sense. How does it make sense to deny people access to aids to their health and well-being in order to secure a smooth balance sheet. 



suicide prevention

[Read more…]

Everyday Squanderers Everywhere

fast food, money, fast food, latte, ethnic, deprived

by Anne Heffernan




images credit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

I frequented that same abode again on Friday last and the noise, buzz and bedlam was nerve-racking. I could hardly hear myself read the newspaper with the chattering and chaos as people of all ages, sizes and nationalities vied for a seat, climbing over benches and tables with their trays of drinks and eats ready to topple over at any minute.

I didn’t stay long! As I put my cup in the bin, just before leaving, I asked one of the staff members, was it always this busy. Her reply was straighforward and frank, “Yes,” she grinned, “every day, everyday its the same.”
[Read more…]

Are we really looking after ‘the common good’?

                                                                                                                                                                 by Anne Heffernan


As I wander around this country of ours – well, counties Offaly, Kildare and all of Dublin in particular, I notice, as I am sure you do too, the huge numbers of people, often times, young children and teenagers buying fast food on the go. There seems to be no end to the money they and their families have to spend on such. After school times and lunch times seem to be the busiest! The buzz in any Mc Donalds, Eddie Rockets and other fast food outlets is mesmerising as are the gangs of youths hanging out with their happy meals, breakfast rolls, smoothies, milk-shakes and other drinks – that don’t come cheap.

All nationalities are represented and the chatter among them is infectious. As I sit over my one, skinny latte I ponder the systems in our country. My mind wonders especially about those who are obviously not ethnic Irish. Often times I’m in areas classed as ‘deprived’ (where the unemployment rate is high) and simply wonder how the people I am sitting among can afford to spend the money they do. I cannot fathom where these people get the money it costs to treat themselves or their children to such expensive products on a regular basis. [Read more…]

Who cares about services?

by Anne Heffernan

I have my home up to rent at present. I had to make contact with a number of ‘officials‘ regarding this process. I find it funny, that’s not funny ha ha – its funny peculiar that I was queried about the location of my home, whether it is near ‘services, you know shops and that’. It seems if I decide to rent my home out to someone on State benefits my home has to be close to schools, shops, transport and other services, but if I buy my own home from my own resources – hard earned cash over a lifetime, nobody really gives a damn whether I have suitable services nearby or whether I live in isolation. I for one bought this home because I could afford it, even though I’m a 2 mile drive to the nearest services.

What kind of society cares so much for one element of society and couldn’t care less about the other?

Be Happy

Mental wellness                                                                                                                                                                                                image credit

Social housing need is a crisis that could have been avoided by prudent planning

by Anne Heffernan

You might have heard me speaking with Niall Delaney on on Friday morning about renting out my home and accepting rent allowance. Niall advised me to target the government with my anger. That is just what I intended doing. I cannot understand why the government continues to throw money at a system that costs tax-payers so much.

Surely it would be prudent to approach social housing needs in a more cost effective way.

Ministers don’t seem to have any foresight, never plan for what’s coming down the line and end up wasting so much hard-earned tax-payers money, just trying to stop a leaking tap!

Is this what we voted them in there to do?                                                                                                                                                               [Read more…]

Joe Bloggs Vs Joe Duffy

by Anne Heffernan

You might have heard me on Liveline on Wednesday speaking with Joe Duffy about my book, Our Boomtime Rats –Who do they think they are?   in the aftermath of Budget 2015.

The gist of the show was ‘be happy’ and ‘pay-back time’ as the austerity budgets of the last number of years have been consigned to history.

As a Ms Jo Bloggs I cannot say the budget made me happy. It didn’t do it for the other participants on the show either, and Joe Duffy referred to all the media outlets having independently given a positive spin to the budget announcements and asked us were we not happy with a €5.00 pay back through children’s allowance.

I feel a bit patronised by such comments. What will €5.00 get you? How will this make a difference to anyone’s life?
I feel the government and the national (well-paid) media personalities offer nothing only talk, about issues they have no idea about in real life. When did anyone of them try to live on less than €200 a week? How many of them had to sell their homes? How many of them are bordering on being homeless? How many of them haven’t enough to eat? How many of them have panic attacks on a daily basis as a result of financial worries? [Read more…]

I’m tired putting a brave face on it!

by Anne Heffernan

I’ve been under so much financial stress since the end of 2009. I am at my wits end. I need a job to pay my way and be able to live any kind of normal life. This has been denied me for 6 years now and I really cannot go on any longer. I cannot pretend anymore that my lack of finances is not impacting my life in every way.

My mental health is at an all time low, as is my personal confidence, my physical health and my emotional health. I am at rock bottom and it is affecting my interactions with other people. I feel stressed, anxious and irritable all the time.

I’m currently doing a course in social media for business and on the way in this morning the thought crossed my mind to keep driving and present myself at St. Patrick’s psychiatric hospital…that’s how low I feel.

I have a very small income, am not entitled to job-seekers allowance and the other benefits that go along with it.

[Read more…]