It’s not every day that a social enterprise from the Inishowen peninsula of Donegal gets the welcome news of a €500 donation from a GAA club & community of Irish expats living half a world away in Vietnam!
However, thanks to the generosity of Dubliner Jonny McLoughlin and 14 other men from the Saigon Gaels GAA Club in Ho Chi Minh City, Spraoi agus Spórt are set to jointly benefit from a ‘Movember’ fundraising appeal, which has already surpassed its original target of €1K on the JustGiving platform.
Acts of charity are not new to the Saigon Gaels who have a long history of giving back to the Vietnamese community – and see this as an essential part of being Irish and living & working abroad. Only last year when Vietnam was in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, the central region of the country experienced its worst flooding for decades.
The Saigon Gaels responded to the emergency by donating countless supplies of rice, rain jackets and First Aid equipment to the relief effort that affected millions of Vietnamese.
The Asian GAA club’s latest fundraising campaign has been two-fold – Firstly, to support the ‘Movember’ campaign that involves the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues (including prostate cancer, testicular cancer & men’s suicide) – and secondly, to raise much-needed funds for two children’s charities – Spraoi agus Spórt in Ireland and UPP Global in Vietnam that provides opportunities for young people from disadvantaged communities through purposeful sports & education programmes.
Chair of Saigon Gaels Jonny McLoughlin, who is also a PE teacher and coach of the club’s ladies team, was inspired by the work of Spraoi agus Spórt whilst conducting research on the Gaeltacht area of Donegal – having had a desire to improve his Gaeilge and restart his Irish language learning journey.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “I want to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to Jonny and the 14 other men from the Saigon Gaels for this surprising, yet very welcome donation!
“The kindness and generosity of Irish people not only living at home but also abroad never ceases to amaze me! It seems to be in our DNA – and we are always stepping up to the mark in terms of supporting people in need – possibly because of our own history of challenge and survival.
“Jonny has sent a number of voice messages from Vietnam and we have learned so much in recent weeks about the Saigon Gaels. Celebrating their 10th birthday this year, they not only provide gaelic football, hurling & camogie training but are also a fantastic hub for social & community events.
“As well as being terrific players on the pitch (winning Ladies Gold and the Men’s Hurling Senior Champions at the Asian Gaelic Games in 2019 before the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic), they are also such kind and compassionate men and women – supporting many local Vietnamese charities and donating to orphanages in Ho Chi Minh City during an intense coronavirus lockdown.”
Helen added: “As for ourselves, Spraoi agus Spórt will be spending this wonderful donation on providing inclusive workshops and activities for children and young families in Inishowen.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to Jonny and any of the Saigon Gaels who might be visiting Donegal in the future to pop in and see our services for themselves – as well as the huge impact that donations have on our ability to provide activities for children & young people in our area.
“Indeed, Jonny and the Saigon Gaels are not only a credit to Ireland but also expats the world over who have left our shores in search of work or to establish better lives for themselves and their families!”
The current total of the Saigon Gaels Movember fundraising appeal stands at €1,122. To donate please visit www.justgiving.com/