Section 5 – Engaging with Development in Ireland

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To introduce some ways of working for development while continuing to live in Ireland

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding of the role power can play at home and overseas
  • Awareness of types of action for change that can happen from Ireland
  • Insight to the local and global connections between social justice issues



There are two scenarios that will play out after this training. You will either travel to volunteer in the Global South, or you won’t. This section will aim to cover both of these scenarios. Let’s say you do travel and you see and experience things you might never have experienced? Does the work finish when you return home? Is it only starting?

Over the course of your life, you will likely spend longer in Ireland than you will in an overseas development setting. If this is the case, what can you do to address some of the development and justice issues you will become aware of from your overseas experience?
What if you were able to contribute to development in the Global South in an equal or better way by staying here and not travelling?

What if there were already enough people travelling to various locations and bringing skills and knowledge, so they already exist there? What if staying in Ireland meant you had the chance to enhance the work of those who travel by lobbying, raising awareness, fundraising, hosting trainings, seminars and debates that contribute to increasing public understanding of the root causes of the inequality, poverty and other issues affecting the Global South?





Activity 1 – The Power line


We all have multiple identities; we are children, siblings, friends, employees, managers, parents etc. The power we have in one setting does not always translate directly to other facets of our lives. For example, the power you have over your children in Ireland will likely not carry the same weight over others while volunteering overseas.

It is worth thinking back to the motivations for travelling, if you want to contribute to change in the world, does your power lay mostly here in Ireland or elsewhere? Where can you be the most effective advocate for change?


Step 1

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Step 2


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Activity 2 – Continuous engagement


Returning from overseas offers numerous opportunities to use your experience to contribute to development with your new insights and experience. Through its members groups, Comhlámh enables prospective and returned volunteers to network and share ideas with like- minded people who want to question development and social justice issues.

We see the overseas experience as only a part of the journey to raising awareness and working for change on social justice issues both locally and globally.


Remaining engaged when you return to Ireland is often one of the best ways to digest your experience and utilise your new insights, knowledge and skills.

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Activity 3 – Linking in

Having an understanding of the connections between issues at a local and global level is a starting point for us to be able to act for a better world. Engaging with development can happen at a very local level and doesn’t always need to involve travel overseas.

This activity is designed to get us thinking about what issues exist, the connection between them and what we can do about them.


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Taking it further


Action – What issues do you care about most? Only pick one or two and you can do the rest later. Find out more about these issues, like what the underlying causes are or what is being done about them and by whom? Look for people interested in similar issues (don’t forget the Comhlámh groups), organise a meet up, a call or organise/attend a talk or debate on the issue.

Campaign and advocate for change on the issue you have identified. Contact your TD with questions about their role as a leader, raise funds for a group active on the issue, get the media involved by writing a letter to the editor, blog about it, use social media.

Volunteer Overseas without leaving home

Volunteer your skills online to help people help themselves

UN online volunteering site for Volunteers and Organisations

“If not me, who? If not now, when? Mikhail Gorbachev


Ways to engage with Comhlámh

Comhlámh is a member led organisation. There are several active groups working within Comhlámh. These groups are made up of returned volunteers and members who have an interest in global justice and development issues, and want to make a difference.
The groups are open to anyone – you don’t have to be an expert, we all learn together! All you need is an interest in global inequalities and a desire to get active and work together with like-minded people.
You can read more and watch some short videos of Comhlámh members talking about their time with the Organisation here.

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