Cork teacher uses Easter holidays to set off for Ukraine with minibus full of aid for orphanages

Cormac O’Brien who works as a guidance counsellor in Skibbereen Community School left on his journey today
Cork teacher uses Easter holidays to set off for Ukraine with minibus full of aid for orphanages

Cormac O'Brien who is travelling to the Ukraine border with a minibus full of medical and humanitarian supplies for children in two orphanages pictured with students during a fundraiser.

A Cork-based teacher is using his Easter holidays to travel to the Ukraine/Poland border with a minibus full of medical and humanitarian supplies for children in two orphanages.

Cormac O’Brien who works as a guidance counsellor in Skibbereen Community School left on his journey today. The minibus is full of much-needed equipment for the two orphanages on the Polish side of the border which have taken in 300 children in recent weeks. 

Before setting off he said: “One of my work colleagues has kindly donated her minibus. I am splitting the van in two. Half of it will be medical aid and the other half will be humanitarian stuff that the West Cork Ukraine Appeal who are based in Bandon will be supplying. 

"The orphanage provided a list of medical items they were looking for. Cleary’s Pharmacy in Skibbereen organised with their suppliers that we would get all that supplied at cost price."

Mr O’Brien’s colleagues and the students in the Cork secondary school have participated in several fundraising initiatives in recent weeks which have helped ensure the two orphanages will receive much-needed supplies. The teacher said he is overwhelmed by the levels of support. 

Cormac O'Brien who is travelling to the Ukraine border with a minibus full of medical and humanitarian supplies for children in two orphanages pictured with students during a fundraiser.
Cormac O'Brien who is travelling to the Ukraine border with a minibus full of medical and humanitarian supplies for children in two orphanages pictured with students during a fundraiser.

“The support from the students, my colleagues and from the local community has been phenomenal. A man from Monaghan is paying for the ferry which is costing €870. He randomly saw the post and contacted me. People are so good. The war in Ukraine has resonated with everybody.

“The students have raised a phenomenal amount of money. They did a bake sale which raised €3,000 and that went to the Red Cross. They have also held a non-uniform day, sold art and craft items, and did sponsored walks. 

"We had a target of €15,000 to raise from the GoFundMe page and we are three-quarters of the way there,” he added.

The idea for the trip was only generated in the last ten days which has ensured a frantic period for Cormac who said he has previous experience of humanitarian work.

 “I used to work with the Jesuits in Dublin. I have been out in Bogota in Colombia and Calcutta in India. I am prepared for anything really. I worked in a hospice for the dying in Calcutta, so I have seen savage poverty. I suppose I haven’t seen maybe the level of trauma that these people are enduring.

He is travelling on his own and is scheduled to return home on Thursday, April 21.

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