Donncha O'Callaghan with students at the Central Methodist School, Johannesbourg
Donncha O'Callaghan with students at the Central Methodist School, Johannesbourg
Donncha O'Callaghan Appointed UNICEF Ireland Ambassador
8 August 2009, 9:18 pm
By Jonathan McConnell
Munster's Donncha O'Callaghan has become UNICEF Ireland's newest ambassador and recently completed his first field visit as he remained in South Africa after the Lions tour.
Donncha made the fact-finding trip to learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in South Africa and to highlight the plight of unaccompanied migrant children (mostly from Zimbabwe) who are now living in central Johannesburg.

Donncha who has been working closely with UNICEF over the past few months wanted to get more involved with the organisation and found the whole experience in Johannesbourg as humbling and eye opening. "Meeting children who fled their homes in Zimbabwe and travelled on their own as far as Johannesburg for a chance to go to school was life-changing. It has made me determined to do as much as I can to help."

During his time in South Africa he visited the Central Methodist School and Church in Johannesbourg and the township of Katlehong. Donncha met with children ranging in age from four years up to eighteen years and was visibly moved by their commitment to receiving an education. Donnacha O'Callaghan in South Africa

Paying tribute to the children he met, Donncha said, "Many of the children I've met here have told me that the main reason they have come to South Africa is to continue with their education, following the collapse of the education system in Zimbabwe. It's very hard to come to terms with how these children live, away from their home, and who knows if they will ever be able to return. At the same time, it's amazing how resilient they are, how happy and ready to play and talk with us. They're amazing children."

Speaking about Donncha's appointment as a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador, Melanie Verwoerd, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland said that she was delighted that Donncha had accepted the role, "Donncha has already shown great commitment to UNICEF's work and made a fantastic impression on all the young people and staff he met during his visit in South Africa. We look forward to working with Donncha to continue raising awareness and funding for our work worldwide for children."

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