2012 Volunteer Ireland Awards, Animals and Environment

Alpha Gassama, ClondalClean (in association with Clondalkin Tidy Towns)

Clondalkin, Dublin

Alpha has been living in Ireland nearly 10 years. He first moved from his native Guinea in West Africa to Cork. From Cork he moved to Limerick and then onto Mosney. He moved to Clondalkin about two years ago and quickly formed 'Clondalclean'. Alpha organises two ‘Clondalclean’ clean ups each month where up to 30 asylum seekers from the Clondalkin Towers Hotel would join the Tidytowns group and work together to pick up litter and clean the local area.

This year Alpha was elected to the board of a newly formed TidyTowns group for Clondalkin. Alpha has a vision for Clondalkin, for asylum seekers living in the area – he wants to help with integration and encourage asylum seekers and immigrants living in Ireland to volunteer in their local area. 

Alpha is the only Guinea national living in the hotel in Clondalkin. He doesn't let this affect him and he unites the residents of the hotel and has become a voice for them within the TidyTowns agenda. Alpha has volunteered in every city and town he has lived in since moving to Ireland. As an asylum seeker, he is not allowed to work or attend college full time, however he has been a board member of the Irish Refuge Council, a volunteer with NASC - The Irish Immigrant Support Centre in Cork, NCP - New Communities Partnership in Limerick and Serve the City in Dublin and has attended several short study courses in University College Cork and Trinity College Dublin. Alpha is now involved in the formation of a new group called Ivosta - Friends for Ireland. This group aims to bring together immigrants and Irish people to build local sustainable communities.

Clondalkin Tidytowns were awarded South Dublin Community Group of the Year 2012 and very recently runner up in the all Ireland Pride of Place awards. Last week the group won an Environment Promotion award from Clondalkin Chamber of Commerce and Alpha has been central to the group winning these prestigious awards and restoring pride to Clondalkin once again. 
Alpha is seen as a leader in Clondalkin and his willingness to volunteer has inspired so many people.

Photographs by Will O'Reilly