Sunday, 15 January 2012

LIFE OVERSEAS : Keeping an eye on domestic violence

THE word foróige is unknown to many as it is of Irish origin. It comes from forbairt na hóige which means development of youth.
The Youth Citizenship Awards recognise ‘Ireland‘s Top Teens‘ for their accomplishments in their communities.
The youth club in my town of Killaloe was among the top 10 finalists in Ireland!
My friend Orla Watson asked me if I would support the Foróige youth club in Killaloe in its bid to win the awards.
I agreed immediately as I had a week of school holidays ahead. Why not make my week of freedom fruitful?
Of course, the best part is a trip to Dublin.
On the day of the trip, I stood in front of a white door and gave a tentative knock. It was the entrance to the Killaloe Community Resource Centre, where the youth group usually congregated.
As the knock remained unanswered, I pushed it to discover that it was unlocked. A familiar face appeared and I went upstairs to paint banners. We wanted to be the best supporters with big beautiful banners. We crafted works of art with paintbrushes, marker pens and glitter.
The bus arrived in the lashing rain and, after lugging all our posters onto it, our adventure began! After the sing-a-longs, jokes, junk food and bedlam, we reached our destination, The Helix, in Dublin.
The hall was as packed as a can of sardines! The other nine groups of finalists were present together with their busloads of supporters. As we entered the auditorium, streaming rays of light beamed around the room as youngsters bobbed multicoloured signs up and down.
My group in particular drew a lot of attention with our screams, cheers, waving of hands and even mini Mexican waves.
It was an exciting event; even the national television crew was there!
Each team was represented by a spokesperson. A video on its community work, including an interview clip of a person who supported its work, was screened.
Watson was Killaloe youth group‘s representative. Our team, named NRG (which sounds like “energy“), had mounted an art exhibition to voice its concern about domestic violence.
The members made five doors with a postbox hole in each. When someone looks through the hole, he would see a family scene.
Only one scene had elements of domestic violence, depicting the fact that in every five families, there is one where domestic violence is present.
The postbox idea also attempted to highlight that domestic violence is still a private matter and the outsider can only get glimpses of it.
Another team created an exclusive card which entitled holders to special discounts in local stores, which helped businesses.
A group from Galway raised € 25,000 (RM100,000) to fly to Zambia to help children there.
The event made me realise that everyone, regardless of age, can make a difference. The message is if we believe that we can enact change, then we can.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland. She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart.

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