It’s a snowy winter morning in Cabra, just north of Dublin city.
After dropping her brothers off at school, 12-year-old, Aoife, wearing only slippers on her frozen feet, pushes her baby brother home in his pram.
In the other direction pass children on their way to school. How lucky they are, she thinks to herself...
With big dreams of working in medicine, school is where Aoife longs to be.
“I couldn’t go to school every day...” she tells us.
In fact, Aoife was only allowed to go to school once a week. Two or three times if she was really lucky. And you can imagine how that affected her education.
It’s true… Aoife’s story isn’t something we see every day and I know you’ll be shocked to hear some of it. But a great many children growing up in poverty do lose out when it comes to getting a decent education.
And when you hear how gifts like yours to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul help to fill the deep cracks in state funding… the cracks so many young people fall through… I know you’ll want to help!
Please, will you give a gift today to help ensure that a child like Aoife has the practical support they need with their education?
Whether your generosity covers the cost of schoolbooks… a safe place to live while she studies… or even just a few comforting cups of tea along the way…
For kids like Aoife, your gift will be a blessing like no other. And if you’d be so kind as to read on, I’ll tell you why…
You see, after her mother died, Aoife was sent to live with her father and stepmother. She’d never met either of them before.
And from that day forward, Aoife was treated as a nanny… a cook… a cleaner… but never again, a daughter.
“Only when they were both off work could I go to school,” says Aoife, “My purpose was to clean the house, to cook, and to take their kids to school.”
Neighbours could see the neglect, and they would sneak her their kids’ old clothes and shoes to help her keep warm.
But the night was her own. And after her parents fell asleep… she could study her few treasured schoolbooks. The ones she’d managed to beg and borrow.
Growing up in poverty, and with no family looking out for her… Education, books, learning… they were all Aoife had to hold onto.
It is said that when all else fails, there is the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul...
…and few have been failed more than Aoife.
Yet she speaks with no bitterness. Only with grace and gratitude for the people who helped her through those lonely and difficult days…
Caring people like you.
With education comes opportunity. The choices young people make during this month of the Leaving Cert stay with them for the rest of their lives. But what if, like Aoife, they have no choice?
School books, lunch money, rent… even the cost of a cup of tea – A state grant will only stretch so far. When the money is gone, it’s gone. And when you’re trapped in poverty, it’s these ‘little extras’ which put education just out of reach for so many bright young people.
By age 17, after years of neglect and often downright abuse, Aoife was placed in a girls refuge for her own safety. She was safe, yes, but she still had a big problem…
She didn’t meet the grades to study medicine as she’d always dreamed. Worse still… soon, she would have to fend for herself.
With no qualifications and no family to lean on, Aoife was in a dark place…
Until she met Kay.
A caring SVP volunteer, the day Kay met Aoife, both of their lives changed forever.
It was gifts like yours that supported Aoife with all she needed to get her degree. And love like yours gave her a reason to keep going – Someone believes in me.
After a childhood filled with challenges, and of studying her schoolbooks in secret, Aoife stands before you today – a fully qualified nurse.
Without the help of people like you at that critical moment in her life, Aoife, would have fallen through the gaps in state-funded education.
We see it all the time. And what a terrible waste that would have been. Not just for Aoife, but for society, as she continues to touch the lives of Ireland’s sick and vulnerable people with healing hands and a heart filled with gratitude...
Aoife says, “If Kay didn’t see me that day in the refuge… if she hadn’t advocated for me, helped me get a place on a nursing course and somewhere to live… if she hadn’t supported me with money for books and bus fares… I wouldn’t be a nurse today… I’d probably be homeless.”
That’s why your gift today, of any size, is so important. Because across Ireland, in your very county, desperate young people like Aoife are at risk of abandoning their education because they simply can’t afford to go to college.
A little help, at the right time… Aoife proves that you can change everything.
Please, if you can, give today so that tomorrow when someone in your county contacts us – that little window of opportunity may open. Just as it did for Aoife.
We are so profoundly grateful for your continued support. Thank you for your faithfulness, now and always. And who knows, the next time you or a loved one is comforted by the gentle, caring words of a nurse, it may just be Nurse Aoife...