EVS&GEAI Together!

GEAI in ‘Pay It Forward’ Competition

Pay it Forward concept means to respond a person’s kindness by being kind to someone else, if you get something, give something back!

This is the main idea of volunteering and also of the European Voluntary Service.

Leargas, the National Agency that deals with the Erasmus+ programmes in Ireland is celebrating 20 years of European Voluntary Service with a big competition meant to attract more organisation to host and send young people for EVS. There are prizes for the volunteers with the best ideas!

GEAI, as a hosting organisation, entered the competition with a video that we made in order to promote EVS and ourselves.

Lisandra, Cedric and Alice had the visit of Barry, a talented student in the visual arts. Together they filmed a video showing what it means to be part of EVS, what have we done during our year in Ireland and what have we learned.  Also you can also see from the point of view of the hosting organisation what it means.

We had a lot of fun filming and we now realise that it is not an easy job to be a star! It definitely was rewarding when we saw the final result. Please watch our short video below and tell us what you think.

And don’t forget, sharing is caring!


The Sun is here!

Sunday morning a new message on the phone: “Heat wave coming!” Wow! Good news!

Lets enjoy the good weather: shorts and short sleeves, where are you?

There is nothing better than enjoy the summer at our house, with a beautiful view of Lough Allen and of course an ice cream.

But suddenly I looked at my legs and realized how bad winter was. A foreigner looking Irish!

After a very sad winter that for me started in January, when I moved to Ireland, where my life was home-work and work-home and at 5pm it was already dark, now is the time to take advantage of the good weather and enjoy the brighter days (from 5am to 11pm).

A good opportunity to sunbathe properly for a week and probably in the bank holiday, as well! A big sunny weekend seems very promising. Probably a good opportunity to rent a kayak and sunbathe in the middle of Lough Allen!

But this is not all! 1st of June, International children’s day. It was a good opportunity for all the “children” in our organization to celebrate “the first day of summer” with a communal lunch outdoors! Some of them not so young in years, but certainly young at heart!


A nature walk in Cladagh Glen – Fermanagh

^1A57165DCE87B458BF32BA66B4880E9D5A61CF21FB9CE1B8BD^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrLast Friday us volunteers went for a nature walk in Cladagh Glen Walk, located in Co. Fermanagh. It was a beautiful warm and sunny day and we had a great time!

It was a good opportunity to see some of the Irish spring flowers, such as bluebells and primroses, and surprisingly for me: wild garlic! Never heard about it, in my entire life! But, is very tasty and incredible beautiful! There was wild garlic all over Cladagh Glen. It changes the landscape, for sure, after 3 months of rain and clouds, all over Ireland. The green forest is being transformed by the spring colours, mainly blue (bluebells) and white (wild garlic) and is very impressive! Slowly we are getting the summer spirit! Longer nights, brighter days, colour and energy!

Wherever I go in Ireland, my reaction is always the same: “Wow! I don’t have words to describe this landscape!” In Cladagh Glen I had, again, one of those moments. Even me, from the Azores, I can say that I saw the most beautiful landscapes of my life in Ireland.

I never took so many beautiful pictures, as in Ireland. My family and friends are amazed with the Irish landscape and culture, and so am I.For me, the most beautiful scene was the Cascades waterfall. So stunning!  And of course a nice place for a group picture!


But now, a bit of culture and curiosities:

  • Claddagh Glen

Claddagh Glen takes its name from the Cladagh river, which rises from Marble Arch Caves, below Cuilcagh Mountain. It is also part of the Marlbank National Nature.

  • Marble Arch Caves

It was a French cave explorer Edouard Alfred Martel, accompanied by a young Dublin born scientist named Lyster Jameson, who first ventured into the darkness of the cave in 1895.

  • Maggie’s Hole

The legend goes that a local young girl, called Maggie Duffy, was running down from the mountain and across the arch when she fell through the hole and into the river below. She was wearing wide, voluminous skirts, which opened like a parachute so she floated downwards and lived to tell the tale.

  • Bluebells

They are not protected under international law, such as CITES or the EU Habitats Directive, but they are protected under UK law.

In the end, it was a lovely sunny afternoon, a good opportunity to explore Cladagh Glen’s landscape and forest, with some cultural moments and fun with the GEAI team.

Census 2016 – A French perspective

The Census took place on Sunday April 24th and forms were collected by enumerators. Like everyone in Ireland, the GEAI EVS volunteers filled in the form but two questions surprised me as a French man: ethnic origin and religion.


Dating back to the first surviving records in 1910, the question on a person’s religion is a long-standing in Ireland and it is not a problem for the Irish to answer this question. According to the Central Statistics Office “the results are becoming increasingly important in planning for schools, in understanding chaplaincy needs for marriage ceremonies and by the health services”.

Ethnic and cultural background

The question on ethnic or cultural background was first used in the 2006 census. People have choices between different ethnic backgrounds and can add their own if it was not included in the list. The decision to introduce this question has not been easy. “The format of the question was agreed following extensive consultation with various bodies such as the Equality Authority, Pavee Point and others” specifies the Central Statistics Office.

Better information about population origins

Obviously under Irish Equality Law, it is prohibited to discriminate in relation to employment, vocational training, advertising, collective agreements, the provision of goods and services on nine grounds, including a person’s race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins. These types of statistics are useful to lead social policy and immigrant integration policy such as social and living conditions, employment, occupation, education. There is a need and demand for this data because the massive arrival of new immigrant people is a recent phenomenon in the Irish history and the authorities just measure the composition and evolution of the population living in Ireland.


Phil Lynott

In France, collection of this data is impossible!

In France, the law can punish by 5 years’ imprisonment and €300,000 fine, the collection and recording of information on ethnic or religious affiliation of respondents. This ban was confirmed by the French Constitutional Council in 2007. For the French, answers to such questions is a real taboo, maintained by the universalist heritage of the French Revolution.

Consequently, France does not have official statistics to measure the population composition. This situation can cause some tensions. However, there are some groups who want ethnic background or religion accounting. Among their objectives is to know exactly the situation in France regarding social integration or work market access.

Problems for Ireland in the future

But how to describe the difference between ethnic groups? France is different to Ireland, having a large population of mixed race resulting from the integration of colonies in Africa and Asia. France also has many overseas territories. This cultural and social diversity puts huge obstacles in front of ethnic analysis of the French population.

Ethnic and cultural background is easy to describe for people living in Ireland because immigration is recent. But in a few decades, how will one respond to this question if born in a mixed race family? The family cultural background will be totally Irish but they could have a black or Asian ‘appearance’. A future debate.

Cédric Stanghellini, EVS Erasmus+ Volunteer,


20th April: the 3 volunteers visited a sustainable farm in Fermanagh

James, a friend of GEAI presented us his farm, a different farm, where you can find a ‘little’ wind turbine, a big wood boiler and plenty of solar panels.

He was one of the first people around to install a wood boiler.

Buying wood is very expensive, that’s why I burn only my own wood that I plant in my fields and sometimes I use wooden waste like pallets”, says James.

He was a lucky though because his family owns some hectares of forest land and the wood that he cut is estimated to last between 5-8 years. Before to be useful, trees should grow up during 20 years minimum, that is the perfect age when the size is enough to burn it but not too large to be difficult to cut. Next step, wood must be dried in a hangar and after to be cut in logs fit for the boiler.

2016-04-20_Farm Palm Wood (2)

The boiler has a 40 kW capacity and in the 10 years of use he only replaced 4 small parts.

We were amazed how huge the boiler was but also his house is big.

The wind turbine

Near to his farm, James decided to construct a small windmill as part of his master degree project. In this place, the wind in sufficient to rotate the palm. Inside the windmill, the system is easy: the rotary movement moves the electric generator. A power cable leads the electricity produced to the James’ house. “I chose this place for my windmill because here is the windier field of my farm. There are no land forms or forest around and it is not so far to my house but not too close to hear it” explains James. The energy produced is controlled by an electricity meter. The turbine is mostly active at night time and he uses the energy to charge his electric car.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

James explaining about the wind turbine.

His car has a 60 miles autonomy, is not much but is good to go to work and back!

But James is very proud of his solar panels. He installed them almost one year before – 16m2  of solar with a 44 kW power and in a sunny day they would produce 3.5 units.

For him are a very good option and even in winter he can get some electricity despite the weather.

We were impressed with all that we saw, but we also understand that you have to have a passion for tinkering to be able to manage and maintain all that, he really like what he does and he is always looking for new ideas. Is a lot of work involved, of course, but Ireland, because of the climate, is a place where you have to be very resourceful and take in consideration many options for heating and electricity if you want to be sustainable and to save some money.

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Solar panels


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