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Lorraine Keane & Emer Mullins - Trocaire

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

"Lorraine Keane has returned to Ireland this week following a whirlwind trip to Zimbabwe and Mozambique with Trocaire. Stepping into a new role, the popular personality met people who have had their lives changed by Trocaire Christmas gifts, which are now on sale.

At the Amazon primary school in Zimbabwe Lorraine met over 200 children who are being fed at school each day through Trocaire's school-feeding programme. The school is an empty shell compared to Irish classrooms. But the children were all smiles for Lorraine, as she helped dish out their lunch and chatted about their favourite school subjects.

"Before Trocaire started the school-feeding project, the children were walking long distances to school and fainting when they got in the door, said Lorraine. "This Christmas Trocaire is offering Irish people to buy a full year of school lunches one of these children for €10. That's the cost of just one lunch in Ireland. In Zimbabwe it's the difference between keeping a little child healthy and concentrating on their studies instead of painful hunger pangs."
Trocaire Christmas Gifts

Trócaire feeds over 13,000 school children from poor communities in Zimbabwe to ensure they eat one nutritious meal each day. During the trip Lorraine also met children who received birth certificates and families that have been given goats and training through Trocaire's Christmas gifts. She also met families affected by HIV/AIDS that need help this Christmas.

Trocaire Christmas gifts, called Global Gifts, range from €10 to €200. Each gift comes as a Christmas decoration enclosed in a Christmas card, showing how the chosen gift will be used. The person who buys the gift can send the card to a friend, family member or client as a gift to them. The recipient of the card can read about how their gift will benefit a family overseas".

Trocaire Press Release

Global Gift

"This winter Trocaire is marking ten years of its ethical Christmas gifts. 600,000 gifts have been bought by Irish people, changing over one million lives. Trocaire's Christmas gifts raise money for and awareness of Trocaire's long-term development work. Over the past 36 years Trocaire has funded programmes in more than 60 countries worldwide giving education, skills training, healthcare, agriculture support and human rights support to those most in need.

Trocaire's 2009 Global Gifts include school lunches for children in Zimbabwe (€10), chickens for families in East Africa (€15), vegetable gardens for Indian families (€25), life-saving food for families in Mozambique (€35), goats for families in Zimbabwe (€45), education for young people in Burma (€70), clean water for people around the world (€100), fishing boats and nets for fishermen in Burma (€150) and houses for families living in desperate conditions (€200)". Trocaire Press Release

To purchase a Trocaire Global Gift this Christmas log onto or call 1850 408 408 (ROI) 0800 912 1200 (NI)

Trocaire's Global Gifts are also on sale exclusively in Avoca and Veritas outlets nationwide and in Trocaire centres in Maynooth, Co. Kildare, 12 Cathedral Street


We work for a just world.
We work with amazing people to bring about positive and lasting changes in some of the world's poorest places. Our programmes are carried out with partner organisations so local people drive the whole process and, in turn, their own development. We're unlike any other development charity in Ireland. Here's why.

It's our partnership approach that really makes us different. When we help people, we work with them, so that they drive the entire process themselves. Solutions are not imposed on the people we help. Instead, they become the authors of their own destiny.
As far as is possible, all the goods and items we need to carry out our work are purchased on the ground, meaning we feed back into the local economy and cut back on unnecessary expense, such as transportation costs.

We're also different because we push Irish and international governments to act on global poverty and we reach out to thousands of students every year with our development education work".

Lorraine Keane

How did you get involved with Trocaire?

It was something that I have talked and thought about from a young age. Then having a busy career and a young family I put it off for a while. I suppose that was an excuse if I am perfectly honest and I was scared. I felt the need to do something and I thought it is too easy for all of us not to do anything. It is so easy to turn off the telly and turn the page in a magazine so we don't have to see those images.

I bumped into a friend of a friend - Gary - a photographer who gives his time to Trocaire and I asked him all the questions I wanted to know. He was able to answer all my questions. This was in the early hours of a Sunday morning and then on Tuesday he came to my house and met my husband and we had a good chat about everything. We had planned on going last year but I was too busy to go so I decided to do as much as I could to help them in Ireland and then this year I was able to commit to going out to Africa. What was wonderful this year was that I was able to see the projects that I helped fundraise for last year in action. I was able to see how a year of that money raised by the generous Irish people was working.

Trocaire are amazing- they buy locally - and they teach them how to feed themselves, how to be farmers, grow crops etc. Then they are generally able to move out of these communities after about 2 years.

You visited Zimbabwe and Mozambique - what conditions were families living in?

They were living in mud huts - anything made from bricks are positively posh. They have open fires in the middle of these huts - they have so little.

They need to have one meal a day. In Ireland you could spend €10 on a lunch but €10 can fed a child for a year in Africa. In the Amazon school they are aged between 4-13. There are 220 pupils and they get a bowl of porridge everyday that keeps them alive. Sometimes they have to walk up to 12km everyday just to get that meal. They are also being educated in 11 subjects and when I asked them what their favourite subject was they were saying environmental science. They are so so happy. It puts everything in perspective.

When you have a child you are looking down at their little faces and you have so much love for them but these mothers sometimes have to watch their children die. Trocaire and the Irish public are doing so much good out in Africa to help these poor people.

Can you tell me a little bit about your visit to Mozambique?

We visited families who had taken in orphans. Grandmothers are rearing their grandkids because their own children have died from aids. One woman called Clare - she was 29- her baby was 5 weeks old and was less than 5lbs weight. She didn't even know she was HIV positive - she just got sick at the end of her pregnancy. She had the baby and the baby was so small and Trocaire got in and helped her. They then did the test and the poor little fella has HIV. If she had of known she was infected she could have taken medicine to prevent it from being carried on to her child. She is now on medication - thanks to Trocaire. Clara and her baby have a chance as her baby has started to put on weight. She also has 3 other kids and chances are that they are infected now as well. There is hope for her and that nutrition program is costing €35. They can also start to live pretty decent lives too.

Are your children aware of the Global Gifts?

They are aware of them. I have lots of family members and this Christmas we have decided to buy Trocaire gifts for each other. It's also a lovely way to explain to my children that there are other children that aren't as lucky as them.

Was it hard for you to return to normal life in Dublin after seeing the poverty you saw in Africa?

It is very difficult to put it into words how I feel. I am so lucky that at the moment that I can speak to the public about my trip and because I get this opportunity I feel like it's another phase of this journey. It's not like I am coming back to normal everyday life and I know that that is helping me a lot to be able to speak about it.

Emer Mullins: Communications Manager of Trocaire

Tell me about the work Trocaire does?

Trocaire works in 26 countries overseas in the poorest countries in the world and we concentrate on 6 major programs dealing with emergencies, livelihood, gender, HIV and AIDS, human rights and goverence.

Tell me about Global Gifts?
They are an ethical gifts plan and they are 10 years old this year. It is the first of its kind in Ireland when it was developed. People choose one of 9 gifts from the catalogue and then they get a beautiful gift card and certificate to give to the person they choose. Then the actual gift that they purchased is given to the person or family overseas that needs it.

When people donate to Trocaire does all the money donated go direct to the people?

If you want to break it down - we'll take a look at a euro - 91.5 cent goes on to direct charitable expenditure, a cent is on fundraising activities, less than one cent goes on administration costs.

Can you name one place where Trocaire has made a huge difference?

In Kenya Makuru - we fund a clinic that helps pregnant women that have HIV - we have run a program that eradicates the transmission of HIV from mother to baby. All of the babies born now in the clinic are HIV negative. That has been a great success.

Any highlight from your trip?

The school was amazing - 220 children that are being fed. We saw ourselves the feeding program and we saw how happy the children are. 13,000 children alone in the country are in feeding programs provided by Trocaire - all from Irish people's donations.

Has the recession affected donations?

It has - income is down about 10%. When people are buying gifts they are buying the smaller gifts- which is totally understandable.

Prices/Stockists/Relevant Information

To purchase a Trocaire Global Gift this Christmas log onto or call 1850 408 408 (ROI) 0800 912 1200 (NI)

Trocaire's Global Gifts are also on sale exclusively in Avoca and Veritas outlets nationwide and in Trocaire centres in Maynooth, Co. Kildare, 12 Cathedral Street Dublin 1, 9 Cook Street Cork or 50 King Street Belfast.