by Anthony Hennigan
He has time on his hands that he could never have foreseen but Mayo goalkeeper Rob Hennelly is putting the break from football to positive use by supporting the work of ActionAid Ireland.
The charity tends to the needs of children and families in the developing world, and the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the risks that daily life poses to the most vulnerable in these societies.
“It’s in times like these that we really are tested. It’s been tough being away from family, from the football and from my teammates, but I’m very lucky. I know many have lost loved ones – and I can’t even comprehend how lonely and difficult that is. This time really does make you think about what’s important and feel grateful for the securities we have around us,” said Hennelly whose sister, Sarah Jane, works with ActionAid Ireland.
“I just can’t imagine how terrifying it must be for families without access to clean water or soap, for people whose livelihoods are on the line because of restrictions, and for those who can’t social distance due to living in slums or refugee camps. It’s a living nightmare.”
ActionAid has been running child sponsorship programmes in Ireland since 1983 and many sponsors are from Mayo, but it’s a challenging time for the charity when Ireland and Europe is itself in crisis.
“You’d worry about where this leaves these other countries?” says Hennelly. “Thankfully though, [Sarah Jane] told me how Irish donors have blown them away with their generosity since Covid-19 began. I am very proud to support the work of ActionAid Ireland and will continue to do so beyond this pandemic. Covid-19 has really driven home to me the importance of looking after each other — at home and abroad.”