An unsung hero!
There are a number of “unsung heroes” who directly help and support Abs Dumbuya in Sierra Leone. One such person is Dr Sinead Walsh, the Irish Ambassador to Sierra Leone. Sinead became Ambassador in 2011, and since that time her contribution to the Dorothy Springer Trust has been significant.
In 2014, she contracted DST to provide basic IT training for three of her staff. This was the first training contract that DST had secured and provided much needed income for the charity. The extra money meant that more disabled persons could be trained, and the number and range of courses for the disabled could be expanded significantly.
Over the next two years other Irish Embassy contracts followed. In addition, Sinead began to convince her diplomatic colleagues in Sierra Leone to use DST for IT training. The Ambassador also introduced Abs to Sister Mary Sweeny of Unimark and St Joseph's School for the Hearing Impaired. St Joseph's sent 12 deaf students to be trained as part of the “training toolkit project”.?
Through her extensive network of contacts, Sinead has helped to provide internship opportunities for DST graduates. In addition, she has been interviewed a number of times on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation where she always takes the opportunity to promote the work of DST.
Last November, when a group from EBC visited Sierra Leone, we met Sinead at the DST offices in Freetown. In the middle of a very busy schedule, she gave up her time to attend the graduation of thirty-three DST students. The Ambassador was the keynote speaker and she handed a certificate to each graduating student together with words of encouragement.
We are also very grateful for the help and assistance that she gave Abs and his wife Mabel at the height of the Ebola crisis. Mabel was about to deliver their son Isaac, but when Abs took Mabel to their doctor, the surgery had been closed (as many others had because of ebola). When she heard about their plight, Sinead contacted the Choirthram Memorial Hospital and arranged a meeting with the hospital director. Mabel was able to register at the hospital where she delivered Isaac safely. Thank God!
Sinead’s post as Irish Ambassador in Sierra Leone (and Liberia) is ending. In fact she is going to be taking a sabbatical writing about Ebola, and people in Sierra Leone, at Harvard University. Abs is planning to ask her to become a patron of DST, and hopefully she will accept that role. Whatever Sinead decides to do in the future, we wish her well and say a huge thank you for all that she has done in Sierra Leone, especially for the Dorothy Springer Trust.