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Mary Dunnion is a Lecturer at Letterkenny IT, Donegal, and Habitat supporter. Since 2010 Mary has led LYIT student teams to build in partnership with Habitat in Malawi, Zambia and India. Read her Advent reflection below:

During the past 11 years I have travelled to several areas with Habitat for Humanity undertaking building projects. These were all truly life-changing times in my life. Nothing could have prepared me for my first trip to Malawi in 2010.

I was in awe of the sights and smells but overwhelmed by the warmth of the people and their level of happiness and gratefulness. Despite having very little, the people were so generous of their time and friendship. I returned home a different person. Indeed, every time that I come home from my trips abroad with Habitat, I become so much more appreciative of the blessings that I have- my family, my lifestyle and belongings, my work and my health.

Every Christmas I become more and more aware of the frenzy that's evident during this season- the lights, the parties, and the spending that goes on around me. Yet from social media and news reports we see charities calling out for help for those less well-off and for those in war-torn areas of the world. Many of these do not have a safe home. It makes me think of the true meaning of Christmas and if it has been lost in this delicate world of ours.

The recent United Nations COP26 highlighted many important issues for the world but particularly the effects for those living in the poorer countries. The world must change to protect what we have and to safeguard the future for generations to come. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all start the New Year with the thought of what it is that I can do to care for my environment? It may be only one drop in the ocean, however every drop counts.

At this special time of giving and caring for others, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in Habitat for Humanity across the world and in Ireland for the fantastic work that they continue to do, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. So many people depend on the fantastic work that they continue to do in the office and in the field. Keep up the great work. Go raibh míle maith agaibh, thank you.

Prayer

Dear Father, please look after all leaders and decision makers around the world to help tackle climate change, the evidence of which can be seen in many countries. Give them the knowledge, strength, and courage to make decisions for the better of the world. We pray for those who have no homes or live in fear of their lives. Give them strength and protection at this special but often difficult time of year. At this Christmas time and as a New Year beckons we also remember all those who have gone before us and pray for those who mourn their loss. Amen.

Read more Advent reflections here.

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