Vision & Mission
- Our MISSION is to bring together Irish charities working in Eastern Europe to facilitate improved effectiveness, through communication and co-operation.
In early 2009, Comber, an Irish NGO working in Romania since 1990, met with several other organisations working in Eastern Europe to see how Irish groups working in the region could benefit from sharing of knowledge and experience. There are more than 70 Irish charities operating in Eastern Europe, many since the early 1990s. The majority of these groups operate on a voluntary basis.
Two open meetings were held in September and November 2009 in Dublin and were well attended. All the groups that could be identified to attend. Comber and partners also hosted a Conference in December 2009 on ‘Aid & Eastern Europe’ which had 115 delegates present. Initial feedback has highlighted a real need for material and support specific to Eastern Europe. At present, Irish development resources, aid and activities are concentrated on Africa, Asia and South America.
Following the success of the conference and the open meetings and it was decided to go ahead and set up a Network for Irish organisations working in the region. The Network is a voluntary project, maintained by charities and individuals who are interested in improving communication and knowledge exchange about the region in Ireland.
2011-12 Steering Group
The 2011-12 Steering Group was appointed in May 2011, in response to a call for volunteers. Members are as follows:
Mairie Cregan, Chairperson – Aurelia Trust (Cork)
Mairie is a professionally qualified social worker currently working in the area of adult mental health specifically suicide intervention. She also lectures in University College Cork. An experienced foster carer and adoptive parent herself, Mairie has been instrumental in the establishment of a number of foster care projects in Eastern Europe, primarily Romania since 1990. She founded the Aurelia Trust in 1994 to promote fostering in Eastern Europe as an alternative to the endemic institutional care.
Fiona Dowling, Treasurer – Comber Foundation (Laois)
Fiona trained as a paediatric physiotherapist and volunteered in Romania in the 1990s. Fiona began working in management and international development on a full time basis after completing an MBA and working in Irish disability services for a number of years. Fiona has been Comber’s Executive Director since 2006.
Brian O’Sullivan, Network Co-ordinator – Burren Chernobyl Project (Limerick)
I have combined backgrounds in Nursing and Occupational Therapy. I have been travelling to Belarus for the last six years and have since established a Medical program in a children’s orphanage on behalf of Burren Chernobyl Project. I currently work as Director of the Medical program. I also continue to work with a variety of client groups in a range of settings across Ireland. I am particularly interested in research areas surrounding intellectual disabilities and community development. My enduring interest, however, is in adolescent mental health.
Helen Walmsley, Voluntary Service International (Dublin)
Helen has worked and volunteered in the NGO sector for several years, including one year managing ‘Fundatia Pentru o Viata mai Buna’ in Romania (through Health Action Overseas), working on raising awareness of the rights of people with disabilities to access services and lead fulfilling lives. Currently Helen works with VSI organising volunteer projects in Ireland and sending volunteers abroad to work with community and voluntary organisations, including many in Eastern Europe.
Ned Hayden, Burren Chernobyl Project (Cork)
I have spent my life teaching in various parts of the country at both Primary and Secondary level. I have been involved with the Burren Chernobyl Project since 1997 and Chairperson for ten years. I have worked in a number of Internats in Belarus for both children and adults and also with families at home, all in the area of disability. I firmly believe that the more we co-operate with the carers the greater effect we have in improving the quality of life of the residents. I have learned a lot from the Network and firmly believe in its future and importance.
Laura Johnson, Chernobyl Children’s Trust (Dublin)
Simon Walsh, Chernobyl Children’s Trust (Cork)
Caroline McGreal, Tanner Romania Mission (Monaghan)
Michael McGreal, Tanner Romania Mission (Monaghan)
Dr Patty Gray, Consultant to the Steering Group
Patty lectures in Anthropology at NUI Maynooth and has carried out field research in Russia. Her areas of interest include the impact of overseas aid on Russian, Eastern European and (formerly) socialist societies.
Past Steering Group Members
Frances Haworth, past co-ordinator
Frances co-ordinated the EEAD Network and activities from Jul 09-11, as part of her role with Comber Foundation. She also helped establish Moldova Vision in 2006, a voluntary group supporting Moldovan migrants in Ireland and social projects at home.
2009-11 Steering Group was appointed in November 2009, made up of individuals who volunteered in response to an open call. Members were as follows:
Fiona Dowling, Comber (Chairperson)
- Mairie Cregan, Aurelia Trust
- John Mulligan, Focus on Romania
- Helen Walmsley, Voluntary Service International
- Stephen Wilson, ADRA Ireland
- Sile Byrne, Consultant
- Ronan Ryan, Genesis Association, Georgia
- Joanna Fortune, To Russia With Love