Name: Lauren Gaynor, Sixth Year, Loreto Grammar School, Co. Tyrone

Background: Lauren has been involved in volunteering from a young age and has organised and participated in fundraising activities regularly such as, bag packing, baking and serving at coffee mornings. She was chosen by her school to participate in an exchange programme and subsequently volunteered in a Washington Soup Kitchen. The Soup Kitchen was established to help feed and provide shelter for the homeless people in the city.

Lauren also had the opportunity to visit Cambodia on a four week expedition and took part in numerous projects such as designing concrete cylinders for the local drainage system, helping to build a damn which allows the locals to transport food over the river and planting banana trees for the poorest family in the local village. Lauren also donated some of her own money to buy the local people she was helping with food and livestock which was instrumental in creating an income for families.

Both trips were an eye opening and life changing experience for Lauren. Lauren used these events not only to fundraise but to raise awareness of the plight of those in need.

Lauren’s motivation for volunteering: “I want to make a difference to people's lives and, coming from Northern Ireland, I understood I was in a fortunate position compared to many others across the world.”

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