The Umbrella Foundation Nepal
The Umbrella Foundation Ireland
I helped the Irish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children and studied a few child protection courses before heading to volunteer in Nepal with Stephen. After realising that the children’s home we were working with was corrupt, we sought the help of Jacky and Viva to monitor the monthly funds which friends and family were sending from home. Returning to Kathmandu in 2009 to help move the same children under the care of The Umbrella Foundation, I subsequently took over the running of the organisation alongside Stephen and Amy Mulcahy. I returned to Ireland in 2011 and retain a hands-on involvement on an ongoing basis.
Working with Ryanair straight out of college, I realised the corporate world was not for me. In 2007, I headed out to Nepal with Conor to volunteer in a children’s home my friend Gerard Coffey had helped the previous summer. Before leaving for Melbourne in 2008, I arranged with Jacky and Viva to oversee donations being sent from home by friends and family. Viva later asked me to return to help run Umbrella, and I took over from Jacky as Country Director in 2009, followed shortly by Conor and Amy Mulcahy. I left Umbrella at the end of 2011 and remain involved, mostly in a fundraising capacity, and try to get back to Nepal each summer.
I came to Umbrella because I was left dumbstruck and angered by the issue of child trafficking. While my background is actually in finance, a chance meeting in 2011 with a former volunteer in Nepal, on what was supposed to be a fleeting visiting en route to a new life in Australia, has changed my life forever. I had to get involved! After joining the team in Nepal in 2011, I took on the mantle of Country Director in 2012, which gave me a great insight into the organisation and the many problems facing Nepal. I left Nepal at the end of 2013 but continue to remain involved and help out where I can.
Founders of The Umbrella Foundation
I got involved with my friends Dave and Viva in establishing The Umbrella Foundation. Dave had been one of the sponsors of my superbike race team and, after winning the world championship in 2004, I raffled two of my competition superbikes to fund our work rescuing vulnerable children from unregistered ‘orphanages’. In 2005, I took on the role of Chairman, co-ordinating fundraising efforts, working to build our supporter base and participating in the strategic development of the organisation. I am now a retired electrician and supermarket owner, as well as a proud granddad and volunteer with local charities in Dunboyne, County Meath.
I’ve lived in Ashford, County Wicklow since 1976, selling motorbike parts and accessories wholesale, and also raced motorbikes competitively, becoming the 1997 250cc Road Race Champion at 51. Whilst visiting my daughter in Nepal in 2003, I heard Viva’s story about rescuing vulnerable children and had to get involved. We discovered corruption and abuse in a local ‘orphanage’ we were fundraising for, and in 2005 decided to open our own residential childcare homes under the Umbrella Foundation Nepal. With Harry getting involved and Jacky becoming the country director, I set up the board in Ireland and have been fundraising ever since.
I lived in Nepal for many years and was a teacher at the American International school here during the outbreak of the civil war. Unable to turn my back on this country that I love so much, I started to take action and address the problems that were now on my own doorstep. With the help of friends in Ireland, I initially supported a children’s home financially. However, when it came to light that money was being misused by management, I was involved in shutting it and others down with the help of the Child Welfare Board. The children rescued were placed in new, safe and caring homes and the Umbrella Foundation was born.