By Donal Browne
Most people thought the journey for Brazil started Monday 20th Oct 2014 when we packed up the bus and headed to Dublin airport but the real journey began over 12 months ago when we were selected after our interviews and the task of fundraising began!
As a group we undertook many events including bag packing, carol singing, bucket collections, colours days, social events and the ice bucket challenge. Our school backed us the whole way and without them none of this would have been possible. Like all great things there is always a woman behind it, and in our case there were two.
From last October they have worked vigorously making sure nothing was forgotten on this immersion. And on behalf of the lads I would like to give them a massive thanks for the work they have done. We finally started our adventure on Monday morning at 9 o’ clock when we boarded the bus for Dublin airport not knowing what was in front of us. Stopping in Fortaleza on the way over night we visited Ned and Martin in Praia do Futuro.
We began another journey Wednesday night heading north to Parnaiba through the night. We were welcomed by people from the community singing and dancing which was a surprise to a lot of us very early in the morning. Most days consisted of house building in Parque Estevao which was one of the highlights for a lot of us. The night times consisted of various things but what was undoubtedly the highlight for everyone was the forro dancing and Capoeira.
As a group we came up with a little motto ”work hard…play harder” and this was definitely put into practice on the weekends when we spent a day at the beach and on our delta visit and swim after visiting the Canarias Island and meeting Fr. Matt Ryan who held a mass in our honour. No Brazilian mass would be complete without singing and our own Jordan Higgins led us in his natives club song, ”There is an Isle”. The last few days were met with mixed emotions, sadness for leaving the wonderful people we had met and joy for all the work we had helped with.
All the work we had done really hit home on the last day when we presented keys to the families and the emotion on their face said all the thanks in the world. Saying goodbye to the friends we had made was one of the hardest parts of the immersion and also saying goodbye to a man who made all of this possible, Fr.Gerry O’Connor. He has done a wonderful amount of work, not just in Brazil but also around the world. Also a massive thanks to Fr. Brian Nolan who done a tremendous amount of work for the group over the last year and the two weeks in Brazil!
I’d also like to thank Peader Cronin, Dan O’Sullivan and John and Catherine Sheehan for agreeing to the immersion project and looking after the 11 lads and myself!
SERVE’s motto ‘Solidarity in Action’ was proved on this trip as a school group we bonded with each other and the community!