Throughout this semester, I have been involved in a service learning project at the Ballybough Community Center. The center offers a number of programs for the local citizens in the Ballybough area. I was assigned to help with their homework club, which is an after school program devoted to helping 9-11 year olds with their homework. I had been told the program was for underprivileged kids, but I had assumed that the kids were just from some of the less fortunate families in the area. Yet, after a few weeks and talking with the group leaders, I found out my assumption was wrong.
On The first day of my service learning, the weather was nice, so I decided to walk to the center. I noticed the area was close to O’Connell Street; I assumed this meant that the area around it must be nice too. Yet, as I walked further away from O’Connell, the houses began to change. Instead of the well-kept, beautiful houses of southern Dublin, the houses became increasingly rundown. Many were boarded up, and some had graffiti on them. I thought the area must be a little poorer. Yet, when I arrived at the center, I began to talk with the group leaders. They asked me if I had walked, I said I did, and they gave me a puzzled look. They were shocked. They told me I should not walk here, especially with my laptop and school bag. One of the leaders compared the area to Harlem.
At this point, I realized the level of poverty that exists in Dublin. Throughout the following weeks, as I talked to the kids about their lives, I realized how hard it was for some of them. I enjoyed being able to help them, and especially to see their motivation in being involved in a program devoted to school work. They all struggled, but were eager to do better. Hopefully through education, these kids will live better lives than their parents, and will be able to remove the inequality that exists between northern and southern Dublin.