2012 Volunteer Ireland Awards, International Development (2008 - 2015)

Eva-Marie Costello, Founder and Chairperson, Ashirbad Society N.U.I.G (in conjunction with Sisters of St.Joseph of Cluny, West Bengal, India)

Galway

Eva-Marie, at the age of 15 became acutely aware of the needs of the people in the developing world and since then has returned four times to volunteer with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny in their mission in North East India.

Seeing the great need for aid Eva-Marie set up an “Ashirbad” society in N.U.I.G (her current university) in 2011, which enables fellow students to volunteer. As group leader she has helped to send over 13 volunteers and fundraised over €46,000, and this all before her 21st birthday.

On returning, after spending her summers in India, she recruits sponsors, volunteers and helpers. The money fundraised always goes directly to the children in need, with Eva-Marie deciding on the distribution of funds e.g. school fees, clothes and food.

Megan Loan nominated Eva-Marie for a Volunteer Ireland Award, she said "her time volunteering is spent with children who have been freed from labour or who come from below poverty line backgrounds. She has been an educator, carer and confident for the children she has met along the away. She is part of a team currently, which looks to the development of the Declan Resource and Research centre which hopes to improve the education and lifestyle of the children of Kalimpong. Eva Marie stands tall among the people of her generation with her outstanding ability to take risk, explore into the unknown and reach out to all especially the weaker section of society making a huge difference to the people whose lives she touches.“

Photography by Orla Kirwan.