Stepping into an Oasis
I remember the first time I went to Trinity College Dublin. It was my final year in school and I had been invited to the Trinity Ball. As I stepped through the gates, the noise of the traffic disappeared and the grey cityscape was exchanged for the magnificence of the Exam Hall and the music of Strauss. I remember feeling as though I had been transported into a perfect oasis.
That memory was in stark contrast to my long drive to the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Bootcamp: I was battling with traffic and listening to radio reports of corruption, inhumanity and cruelty. But stepping into the Ryan Academy brought back that wonderful recollection as, once again, all the noise of daily life disappeared and I entered another oasis.
I found myself in a place where exceptional people come together to celebrate the safe havens they have been building for others. Whether they are helping children to achieve their dreams, supporting the families of prisoners or protecting the independence and dignity of the blind; these were selfless people, driven by the desire to create real change and an oasis for the recipients of their work.
Stories told with warmth and humour
The presentations we heard were all very different in style and content but there were common elements. Each presenter spoke with passion and told stories filled with the emotion that comes from a genuine commitment to something greater than oneself. They were also characterised by a warmth and humour that comes from doing something that you love.
This was the second time I had the privilege of attending the SEI Bootcamp. I had been in touch with many of the people I met the previous year. We had worked together, supported one another and become friends. My first Bootcamp had begun with tentative introductions, now I shared warm hugs with old friends.
This group of people have become a community working hard to build a better future by creating places where those in need will always find a safe haven.