Husband-and-wife team Andrew McCarroll and Roisin Hall founded Kate’s Project Trust in 2006 in response to a need they both felt. “After taking care of both sets of elderly and frail parents, there was a visible void in our lives,” says McCarroll. “We both have an innate sense of caring and nurturing in us and realized that there was something calling us to continue in the same vein.”
After they sold their home and most of their possessions, the couple’s attention was drawn by a Redemptorist priest to the town of Pattaya in Thailand.
They first visited as volunteers at the Pattaya Orphanage, established in the early 1970’s by Irish-American Fr. Ray Brennan, and were overwhelmed by the “huge problems” that the disenfranchised poor, especially women and children, face there.
“Pattaya is probably the sex tourism capital of the world and has a whole tourist industry based around the millions who flock to the city’s hotels and bars for a ‘good time,’” says McCarroll. “Roisin found herself working at the Street Kids Project. It was her time spent here where she was introduced to the families that lived in the slums. It was clear even in those early days that here was a section of the Pattaya population that was severely overlooked.”
Named after Roisin’s mother Kathleen Hall, Kate’s Project has clearly defined goals to educate children, show support to families, encourage adult literacy, and provide aid in the form of food and secure housing. Working with Thai coordinator Khun Noi, Kate’s Project has built an office in central Pattaya dubbed the “Centre of Hope” that provides education in literacy and other skills, a library, medical care and other assistance.
To date the Project has made it possible for some 120 children to attend local schools, paying school fees as well as funding daily lunches, school uniforms and classroom materials. Both lifetime inhabitants of Belfast, McCarroll and Hall take turns flying back and forth to visit their friends in Pattaya, and love their work. McCarroll believes “service is an essential part of being human, but the Irish are particularly tuned into it.”
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