IN Heroes 2009, an interview with winner Laura Clarke

21 May 2010
Laura Clarke, Dispatch Team Leader for UPC Ireland, has been named the IN Heroes Awards 2009 winner for her volunteer work with Friends of Londiani (FOL). Londiani is a small community in Kenya, and FOL is dedicated to helping its people achieve a higher quality of life through sustainability projects focused on health, water and education. FOL’s work is committed to reaching the 2015 Millennium Development Goals established by the UN. Throughout the year, Laura organizes and participates in fundraising efforts for the Londiani community at home in Ireland. She also travels to Kenya to support with the FOL projects hands-on; working side-by-side with the Londiani community to help with everything from the build of rainwater collection tanks to the upkeep of the Bethal Children’s House, home to 70 orphans. Friends of Londiani is a registered charity, founded by friends of Laura’s family in 2002. Laura, a long-time volunteer, jumped at the opportunity to be involved. “I love working with the fundraising team here in Ireland, and the local community in Kenya,” says Laura, “Seeing a project we’ve all worked on come to completion gives me a great feeling of joy and achievement.” As the winner of IN Heroes, FOL will receive a EUR5,000 donation from Liberty Global. The money will be used to support a new FOL project, Harambee 2010. The ‘to-do’ list for Harambee is long, but includes the installation of rainwater collection tanks, teaching health courses, building classrooms and latrines, and assisting local public health staff with promotional activities. FOL will also conduct health surveys, develop HIV/AIDS awareness, assist in the local medical clinic, and conduct child assessments in the Bethel Children’s Home. They will also work with income-generating community groups like bee-keepers and tailors. Laura says that volunteering has made her a better person. “I have learned so much about Kenya and its people, and the importance of teamwork,” she says, “but most of all, I’ve learned that there is so much more to life than people realize. The people in Londiani, by our standards, have nothing and they are still the happiest people I’ve ever met.” Laura Clarke