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Rose of Tralee Charmaine Kenny with Suas in India

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Charmaine Kenny- Rose of Tralee 2009

Charmaine finished working as a management consultant prior to representing London at the Rose of Tralee International Festival this August. After being crowned the Rose of Tralee Charmaine opted to take the year out to concentrate on Rose of Tralee duties.

She continues to fulfil her ambition of becoming an entrepreneur and plans to explore various business ideas following her year as Rose of Tralee. The 27-year old has a degree in Management Science & Information System Studies and a masters in Economics, both from Trinity College, Dublin, where she is also an elected Scholar. She enjoys the outdoors and scaled Mount Kilimanjaro last year.

She is an avid runner and has completed many marathons. She is involved with a number of Irish charities including Chernobyl Childrens Project, Suas and VSO and has spent time recently in Belarus with Chernobyl and volunteering in Malawi with VSO. Her other passion is travelling, and one of her favourite trips was three months in Japan working as a weather presenter prior to Rose of Tralee. Charmaine was born in Co Kildare and is currently residing with her parents for the duration of her reign as Rose of Tralee.

Following the experience of Celebrating 50 Years of the Rose of Tralee International Festival this August, Charmaine has spent a very busy past four months including visits to a large number of National Schools all around the country and numerous community initiatives along with many local charity fundraising events.

Wearing her entrepreneurial hat Charmaine was guest speaker at Blue Sky Day (Young Entrepreneur Promotion) to over 500 leaving cert students, along with CEO of Stockbyte Jerry Kennelly, FEXCO Vice Chairman Dick Spring, Chief Executive of Kerry Group Stan McCarthy and more.

She also attended the Trinity Alumni Awards evening to lend her support and spoke to a number of students there.

Charmaine was also hosted by Paddy Power to present prizes at the Gold Cup in Cheltenham during November.

Charmaine was guest of honour at Aras an Uachtarian and thoroughly enjoyed her meeting with President Mary McAleese, who she met up with again shortly after at Ploughing Championships in Athy.

Charmaine was honoured with a Civic Reception in Athy where she was paraded through the town on a Rose of Tralee float surrounded by children and a Garda Escort! Being an avid runner she has ran many Marathons including Dublin City Marathon in 2009.

Charmaine attended the Taoiseach's Ball in December before spending Christmas at home in Athy with her family.

Rose of Tralee, Charmaine Kenny, Returns to Kolkata with Suas Educational Development

Current Rose of Tralee, Charmaine Kenny will return to Kolkata, India in February with Suas Educational Development, the charity that supports quality education in under resourced communities in Ireland, India and Kenya.

Departing on a weeklong trip on Friday 19th February, Charmaine will visit Suas' local partner organisations in Kolkata, India including Development Action Society where she worked as a teaching assistant whilst on the Suas Volunteer Programme several years ago.

Charmaine will launch the Annual Suas St. Patrick's Day Fundraising Appeal which will culminate in 250 volunteers taking to the streets of Dublin, Cork and Galway adding a splash of colour to St. Patrick's Day by painting shamrocks on the faces of parade revellers young and old alike. Suas is aiming to raise €40,000, for the projects that Charmaine will visit.

Despite recent economic growth, Kolkata is still struggling to support its population of 15 million people. Many communities are under-resourced, without access to basic sanitation and services.

The people living in these communities live on less than $2 per day. Because of the low income of these families, children are often sent out to work from an early age, missing out on their education. Substance abuse and women's rights' issues such as early marriage are also present.

Suas is working with initiatives like 'Development Action Society' (DAS) who aim to empower women and children in under resourced communities in East Kolkata. Charmaine's trip will include a visit to a DAS education centre in the community of Makaltala, located beside the Dhapa dumping ground, one of the largest in the city.

By visiting, you can follow Charmaine's blog and donate to the St. Patrick's Day Appeal. Just €50 will help a child to stay in school and on the path out of poverty.

What projects will you visit? Revisit the project she was on before, informal education centres in Kolkata - primary school children 4-12 year olds. She was a teaching assistant there in 2003. In 2006 a coordinator in Delhi. Main focus is the education - highlight the work that Suas are doing there, and why they're doing it.

Suas? Volunteer programme helps in the school and the volunteers themselves. Charmaine feels she got more than she gave. Bring creativity to the classroom and relieve the teacher. But it helps you the volunteer as it gives you a flavour of the difference you can make.

You bring the social awareness back with you, whether you're a trader or an accountant, get involved in a programme in Ireland or where-ever you go in the world. Suas taps into enthusiastic energetic people at a critical time in their life, college appropriate time to intervene. not all they are about. Highlight the volunteers work and the up-skilling the teachers. Teacher training for the local teachers.

Additional / Misc' Info:

Volunteering Facts with Suas:

. Suas Volunteer Programme

. This year, 72 Volunteers travel in 6 teams in total from Suas to India and Kenya.

. Volunteers work as teaching assistants for ten weeks.

. Volunteers assist with curricular activities provide one-to-one support and organise extra-curricular activities like summer camps and sports for over 2,000 children.

. 36 volunteers will travel to work in Kolkata in 3 teams. (the other 3 teams will work in Kenya).

. They will work in 12 education centers / 6 schools run by Suas' 3 local partner organisations - each has an education focus working in marginalized communities across the city and beyond.

Makaltala, India

The village of Makaltala lies amongst the suburbs of East Kolkata. It is home to over 500 people, the majority of whom live on less than €1 per day. The most striking thing about Makaltala is that it is located beside the Dhapa dumping ground, one of the largest dumping grounds in a city of over 15 million people.

The community is severely under resourced. There is no electricity and little by way of sanitation. To access clean drinking water, residents must collect water at the nearest post over 1km away. The nearest access to public transport is 2.5km away. The nearest government schools are located an hour away.

A crematorium located within the dump cremates unclaimed bodies and has a defective chimney. Fumes and smoke are spread over the village area polluting the air further.
As a result of these conditions, the community faces a serious of social problems.

Because of the low income of families, children are often sent out to work from an early age. 80% of the children in the village work before and after school as rag pickers, collecting waste such as iron pieces, glass pieces, clothes and medical syringes which are sold to earn money. This work exposes children in the community to a variety of health issues including skin infections, respiratory conditions as well as cuts and bruises.

Substance abuse, particularly amongst males is commonplace. There is also a high level of early marriage in the community. Girls as young as 14, can be subject to arranged marriages so as to remove dependency on their own families. Often the girls are ill treated and these marriages break up. However the norms of society can make it difficult for girls to remarry and without an education dependent on others and are vulnerable to exploitation.

Development Action Society, an NGO founded by a group of women, works with under resourced communities like Makaltala in South East Kolkata. DAS focuses on empowering women and children. The organisation, with support from Irish NGO, Suas Educational Development, currently provides 2,000 children with access to education and vocational training for women.

DAS has established a Non Formal Education Centre (Mukilbitni School) in Makaltala which aims to give all children in the community access to a basic education and the opportunity to go on to mainstream education.

The school has become a focal point of the community and hosts a regular health clinic at the school for women and children from the community. DAS is also working to establish self help groups for women in the community using this forum to create awareness of the issues in the community, educating them about their rights as well as providing them with basic health education.