Johnny Finnegan set off on his year's voluntary work last week.

Volunteer sets off on trip of a lifetime

Navan man Johnny Finnegan last week set off on his year-long volunteering expedition, after he and Offaly woman Carol Leonard came out on top in the RTE series 'Do the Right Thing'. The voluntary work will bring them to Ghana, India and Thailand, where they will be working on sanitary facilities, working with homeless children and then with endangered turtles. “The first four months will be spent in north and central Ghana,†Johnny, from Ardmulchan, explained. “We will be building latrines, and then showing people how to use them.†In the past, he added, the organisation built toilet facilities, but moved on without explaining how they are used, and thus they are not utilised. There is a poor standard of hygiene in Ghana, where bushes are used as toilets, he said. This type of work will be more in Johnny's comfort zone, as he is an engineer, but the next stage will be new to him, working with children affected by child labour in Jaipur, India. “These children are homeless and sleeping rough on the streets, and many are disabled and abused,†he said. He and Carol will spend six months living and working with an organisation that assists these children escape from poverty and child labour. They will live in a compound with 30 other volunteers. The third assignment should be more enjoyable, working on the protection of endangered turtles on an island off Thailand. Because the turtles eat fish, they are ill-treated by the local fishermen and their boats, who see them as competition, and the work will be to protect the turtles from this and ensure they can get to the beach safely to lay eggs. They will also be negotiating with the fishermen regarding the turtles. Johnny quit his job in RPS Engineering to take part in the projects. “I had planned doing a half-year or so over the next three or four years, and then decided to go for this when I saw the ad in the Farmers' Journal. It was not how I had planned it!â€