This summer, a group is marking its seventh year to visit Tuscaloosa to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. What makes these volunteers different from others is they travel from across the world to get here.
Each year since 2012, Project Children has brought a group of college-aged volunteers from Northern Ireland and Ireland to Tuscaloosa to work on houses with Habitat for Humanity. Denis Mulcahy founded Project Children in the 1970s as a way to get young people away from the political unrest and violence happening in Northern Ireland, and allow them to visit the United States. The project started one summer with six children. Project Children still continues today, having brought more than 23,000 young people to the United States over the years.
According to Mulcahy, Project Children did some Hurricane Katrina-related work, and that helped draw them to Tuscaloosa, following the 2011 tornado. Since then, they have made a connection with Habitat Tuscaloosa, and continue to return.
Mulcahy says now, it is like coming home each year.
This year, the group worked on the home of Sonya Kemp, just off Greensboro Avenue.
Not only do the Project Children students say they enjoy visiting the United States, but they also enjoy doing a type of hands-on service work many of them have never done before.
“When you finish, it’s so rewarding for you,” Project Children student Ita Savage said.
“It’s quite cool to get all of us together, and everyone do wee bits, and then suddenly, you start to see it really come on,” Project Children student Chris Leneghan said.
For many of the students, it is their first time in the United States. Anna Monteith says she noticed the Southern hospitality right away.
“You just talk away to people you don’t even know - it’s so lovely,” Monteith said.
Following their time in Tuscaloosa, the Project Children volunteers go to other parts of the United States for career-related experiences.
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